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Full text of "Silver Lake--Wilmington : collected memories"

SILVER LAKE-WILMINGTON j 




COLLECTED MEMORIES 



COLLECTED MEMORIES 




Gathered by Gerry O'Reilly 









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COLLECTED MEMORIES 









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SILVER LAKE 

WILMINGTON AND TEWKSBURY 



COLLECTED MEMORIES 



Compiled and Edited by 

Gerry O'Reilly 

Gerry O'Reilly ©201 2 



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Silver Lake Sky view about 1950 




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Silver Lake Shyview about 1960 




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The beach was expanded and the Silver Crest dance floor was removed. The two houses across 
from the schools were built inside the old foundation of the icehouse, giving an indication of the 
sire of the building. 



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Shy view of Silver Lake e. 1960 



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Tom MeQuaid s store is 2nd building on the right on Grove Avenue; his home is at "Baby" 



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Silver Lake 



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Revisited 



Collecteb iWemorte* of olb g>tttier lake btoellers? are 
precious tnbeeb, fteab on anb enjop. 



<§errp ©'ftetilp - 2004 



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Silver Lake Summers 



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Summer began about two weeks before sehool was "let out." My mother would buy me a 
brand new pair of sneakers: blaek high-tops with a safety circle on the ankle and white soles. The 
sneakers were two sizes too big, but I could run faster with them on. School is out -"no more 
pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks." When I arrived home, and my mother would 
say, 'Take off the sneakers. You'll need them to go back to school." Barefoot the rest of the 
summer. Two days later, the city kids arrived; the population around Silver Lake tripled: 20 new 
kids on my street. Shutters came off. The outhouses were lined with lime, and the screen doors 
began to bang. They came by bus, train, and cars, right up Route 38 from Chariest own, East 
Boston, Everett, Medford, Cambridge, Arlington, and Somerville. They all flocked to their camps 
around Silver Lake and the cool water waiting at Skylark, Bloodsucker, Danger, Moxie, and Baby 
beaches. (See Lou Connelly's description on how he got to the lake.) 

This great increase in population was only a pulse of what was to come. The Skylark 
boathouse became a day camp for other city kids -they used waterwings and painted white wood 
floats -new groups each week. There were also baptisms at the Salvation Army Camp on Lake 



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Street. The Evangelist eamp in Milligan's Grove at the Tewksbury line was the two-week home for 
more kids up from Everett. They marched in line to Baby Beaeh each day, swam, then went back to 
eamp for religion. The great hall proclaimed: "Behold Christ Cometh" in three-foot lighted letters, 
high on the front of the building. It was pure revival and swinging times when the lights were out. 

Thompson's Grove held Charlestown Nite, Cambridge Nite, and other city Nites. More people 
came on the weekends to outings at the Grove, adding to the Lake's population. The pavilion 
rocked -dancing, parties, wrestling, boxing- it was all there. The new building (still standing) 
housed rows of slot machines on each wall - all being used, and lines formed to wait for an open 
slot. Then, the carnival would eome to the Grove- more people, more excitement. 

The Dance Hall on the lake was in its final days around my time, but I remember it lighted and 
in full use -I remember pounding the piano on the lime-green bandstand. Nights never slowed the 
population down. The 'Troubadours'' as the young men were called that lived in a camp on 
Maplewood sang and partied all night -as others did elsewhere and everywhere arround the lake 

Early each morning I would go down to the lake; it was usually crystal clear and smooth as 
glass. I circled the lake looking for returnable bottles left from the night before: beer, milk, and 
tonic. Then, an hour later, the newcomers shattered the pane -they filled the lake. Mothers, 



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daughters, sons, and some fathers on vacation. If I saw some kid I did not know, I would ask him if 
he wanted to buy a turtle. His eyes would glisten: "Wow! Sure -how mueh?" 

"Ten cents." 
I would then go and get an eight-inch sun turtle, and the deal was set -another city kid taken. 

During the war years, Jake Riley offered 75$ for old car tires -I pulled every tire that was in 
the lake out, including one that hung on the pole at Skylark -I made a bundle. 
The people that filled the beaches came for the day, wallowed in the sun, swam some, gabbed a lot, 
but mainly enjoyed the lake for what it was. Teenagers hung in groups, talking, playing bid whist, 
kitty whist, or hearts. 

Tats, Smith Bakery, and even Stewarts store were filled with kids in sloppy, wet bathing 
suits -barefoot and looking for ice cream, tonic, or O-Boy gum. The people came to and from the 
lake all day long, ending at twilight as a big bathtub -every street and path were open to foot traffic. 

Everyone watched everyone else for water safety, and only one rule was strictly enforced -if it 

thundered, leave the lake and hustle home. One storm I really remember was when it hailed. The 

stones were marble-sized and landed in the lake like bullets. The Mackey sisters dragged me home 

as fast as they eould travel. We ended up in Mile's screened porch; then the bullets stopped and 

1 t^ the sun came out. I'll never forget it. ^/l 



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Labor Day -the city people all disappeared, and for two days the lake was completely silent. The 
shutters were up and the outhouses smelled. On the third day -back to school- get the new 
sneakers out, and, to my surprise, they fit perfectly on the dirt-brown, calloused feet. 

The surge of city people to Silver Lake ended after 1947. That year, they didn't go home -they 
all stayed. The camps were winterized or torn down to build new houses. The Town Beach was 
opened (enclosed by a fence), and everyone had to have a tag to get in. I've still got mine. The 
summer people became townies. 

The sizzling summers at Silver Lake came to an end when the flag burned on the beach on 
the last night of "Old Home Days." 

Gerry O'Reilly 



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LIVING 
THE LIFE 

Wit, wisdom and woe 



Train trip to Silver Lake 



by Lou Connelly 



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[aybe it's because my fam- 
ily didn't own a car 
when we were growing up in 
tnr '40s, but I've always held a 
sort spot in my heart for the 
trajn. For one thing, we never 
had to worry about the high 
cost or scarcity of gasoline be- 
cause we knew we'd get to our 
summer destination. 

The train, that marvelous old 
Boston &. Maine standby, lug- 
ged by its noisy, grinding lo- 
comotive, took us where we 
wanted to go. That place was 
the country town of Tcwks- 
bury, just 15 miles north of 
Boston, but we anticipated that 
summer of fun like it was a trip 
to the White Mountains. 

Ma and Pa and the five kids 
and a kitten up to its neck in a 
pillowcase, would start the trip 
from our home in Somerville. 
It generally meant a 10-minute 
walk to Somerville Junction, a 
long-forgotten whistle stop off 
Central StTeet. 

The Journey would end 
about 35 minutes later af Silver 
Lake, a stop in Wilmington. 
Then there would be a 15-min- 
utc jaunt through the woods to 
our small cottage in South 
Tewksbury. 



The names of the stations 
along the way stand out as viv- 
idly as )ack Benny's litany of 
Anaheim to Cucamonga. Som- 
erville Junction . . . Medlord 
Hillside . . . West Medford 
. . . Wedgemere . . . Win- 
chester . . . Cross Street . . . 
Wobum . . . Central Square 
. . . North Woburn . . . Wil- 
mington . . . and finally Silver 
Lake 

There were times when we 
missed a train and had to take a 
later one that didn't stop at Sil- 
ver Lake. We had to get off at 
Wilmington and wait for the 
Lowell bus out of Everett Sta- 
tion that dropped us at the 
Wilmington-Tewksbury line. 
Sometimes we took the Arling- 
ton Center bus from Bartlett 
and Medford Streets in Somer- 
ville and made a breakneck 
dash down Harvard Avenue to 
catch the B & M at West Med- 
ford station. 

If we arrived after dark, it 
meant groping around to light 
3i\' oil lamp since the cottage 
didn't have electricity. If you 
think we're all hooked on tele- 
vision today, forget it. We 
didn't even have a portable ra- 
dio. 



But the rides on the train to 
and from provided some 
of the fondest memories. Get- 
ting there might not have been 
half the fun, but it sure was an 
experience. We still recall the 
day the cat was scared by the 
approaching locomotive at 
Somerville Junction and fled 
from my older brother's grasp, 
never to be seen again. 

In those days) Tewksbury 
had a population of about 2500 
(today the town bulges with 
close to 25,000). The cottage 
nestled beneath towering pine 
trees, and somehow it escaped 
unscathed when the 1938 hur- 
ricane toppled the big pines 
like playing cards. 

The summer population 
came from such communities 

as Charlestown, Somerville, 
Cambridge and Chelsea. The 
chief attraction was the quiet 
country and its closeness to 
Boston and. that wonderful 
mudhole called Silver Lake. 

! You could tell us about Lake 
Sunapee or Lake Winnepe- 
saukee or the beaches of Cape 
Cod, but we didn't care. Our 
Silver Lake proved exciting 
enough for us. Few of the vaca- 
tioning families lived close to 
the lake, but they never mind- 
ed the walk through the woods. 

We could take our bath in 
the lake. We accepted the chal- 
lenge of swimming from Sky- 
lark Beach to Bloodsucker 
Beach and loved the summer 
carnivals. The day the icehouse 
burned to the ground was the 
highlight of the summer of 
1944. 



"Well, we're here," my 
mother would sigh as she seat- 
ed herself on our screened 
porch, the ultimate luxury of 
the little camp. "They must 
have thought we were a bunch 
of gypsies. I wonder what hap- 
pened to the cat." 

Often, there'd be a scramble 
to see who would sleep on the 
couch of that porch. I usually 
lost because I was the young- 
est. But when I occasionally 
won, I loved snuggling under 
the covers and listening to the 
frogs croak from the swamp in 
the distance. There'd be a train 
whistle and you could hear the 
10:31 chug into the Silver Lake 
station. 

"Right on time," my father 
would say as he pulled his 
watch from his vest pocket. 

No longer does the train stop 
at Silver Lake, where as a teen- 
ager I once kissed a girlfriend 
goodbye and boarded the train 
to Somerville. Now you can 
buzz up to the place via Route 
93 in 20 minutes. Old Route 38 
is dotted with shopping cen- 
ters, fast food chains and used 
car lots. 

That's why when I read 
about gasoline shortages and 
folks worrying about getting to 
their summer vacations, I get a 
little nostalgic about the days 
gone by. Things" really were 
much simpler then. • 



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Reproduced with permission of the author. 



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A TIME OF YOUTH AM) VIGOR 

The years from 1925 to 1940 that I lived in Wilmington was the time of my youth and vigor. The 
town had a population of about 3500 when my family moved there. We lived in on Main Street also 
designated as Route 38. Silver Lake, no more than a half mile in diameter, should more aptly be 
called a pond. It was, however, the eenter of fun activity for me as I grew to adult stature. It was 
the place at the age of 10 I learned to swim and skate as the seasons allowed. Actually, before my 
residence in the town, the lake had drawn people from urban neighborhoods on Boston's northern 
fringe. They came to build cottages on its shores making it qualify as a resort area. Clusters of 
cottages aligned the shore of Grove Avenue. Some of them were given names. One owner when 
asked what name he had chosen, replied "111 be damned if I know." Prom that response the one 
questioned, after a moment of thought, excitedly added, "That's it; 111 make the name "Damfino." 
And as such the name was posted on a sign posted over the front door. 

Lake Street served an opposite shore, but remained the site of larger and more traditional homes. 
A palatial home on Lake Street owned by the Southwick family had a pier for boats and canoes that 
could be rented. Another fine estate owned by the Melzar family had its own private beach on the 
shore where it curved to its back rim. A grassy knoll fronted it. Bay State Road , which ran off 
Lake St beyond the water's view, and extended into South Tewksbury, also had a group of summer 
homes. 



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The Lake was fronted by Main Street with Grove Avenue and Lake Street running beyond the 
back shore before coming together. The back shore itself was served by an unpaved road where the 



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Fitzgerald's lived. They were to suffer a devastating personal loss when four brothers of the family 
died in Boston's Coconut Grove fire, a disaster that took 491 lives on November 28, 1942. The 
brothers had assembled there for a war service related reunion. Henry and Jimmy I remember as 
always ready to play in our ehoose-up hockey games when the ice permitted it. 

There were several business establishments at the junction of Grove Avenue and Main Street. 
Tattersall's cigar, newsprint, and ice-cream store was a landmark. Jake Riley, a family member, 
operated his gas station in front of the store. A tri-business block housed a tiny First National 
store on the opposite corner of Grove Avenue. The supermarket era had not yet arrived. I was 
employed there in the spring of 1931 on Thursdays and Fridays as an order boy and clerk. 
Saturday was a full day, and when summer arrived my schedule on Fridays and Saturdays was 
from 8am to 9pm. The orders that I delivered were from a coaster wagon I pulled, sometimes well 
into the neighboring town of Tewksbury. Compensation for the hours I worked each week was 
$4.00. Mike Tanian was the store manager. 

The following summer, 1932, 1 worked for the Economy Grocery located on Main Street across from 
the First National. This was one of the ECCO chain that later grew into the present Stop and 
Shop. Home deliveries from this store were by vehicle. Art Lynch was the driver, Art Ferrara 
followed him. Paul Franz was the store manager. 

The middle unit of the tri-business block was occupied by Frank Brennan's Barber Shop where a 
haircut was priced at 35 cents. Later, under new occupancy, it was known as Art's Barber Shop 
owned by Arthur Costa of Lowell. The third unit housed several business that came and left 



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through the years, I recall a hardware store at one time , and Cutter's drug Store appeared later to 
fill the vacancy. 

Tom MeQuaid opened a grocery store and meat market on Grove Avenue a short distance to the 
rear of the First National. MeQuaid's store, which also made home deliveries, remained open while 
the First National and the Economy profits dwindled and they were forced to close. Tom MeQuaid 
remained open until the mid 1950's. 

Cote's poolroom was located perhaps a hundred yards north of the Economy store on the same 
side. An eatery was added later to the pool hall. One day as I passed I noticed a sign hung 
outside, obviously by a prankster, that read 'Eat at Val's and drink in the alley/' That sign must 
have appeared after the repeal Prohibition in 1933. 

The ice house owned by Walter L. Hale was situated across from Cote's on the other side of Main 
Street to the edge of Silver Lake. Electric refrigerators were a luxury beyond the means of most 
households at the time, and ice deliveries for the now obsolete family ice boxes was a necessary 
service. Before the ice house was consumed by fire in the late 30's some enterprising individual 
opened a miniature golf course on the lot between the tri-business block and the ice house. Before 
long profits ebbed away when the fad itself began to wane. 

The lake area saw yet another grocery store appear in the late 30's. This one was operated by 
George Stevens with Mr. Allard as the meat cutter. Its location was on Main Street opposite the 
beginning of Lake Street. This was formerly the location Frank Bulley's gasoline service station. 



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The Silver Lake beaches I recall, though small, were the highlights of my fun-filled summer 
seasons. Baby beach at the beginning of Grove Avenue had the most gentle slope and shallow 
water. It was the most popular for young children and less proficient swimmers. Moxie beach 
located further up Grove Avenue was named because of the large Moxie sign posted at the site of 
the Silver Lake Spa and Pavilion. Boats and canoes for rent were an added attraction that drew 
fun-seekers to that side of the lake. Right next to the pavilion was Smith's Bakery where the smell 
of fresh baked bread could be inhaled; an array of tempting pastries delights could be viewed, if not 
purchased. A shady lover's lane joined Baby Beach to Moxie. As the years went by the path 
became worn down and less used. I recall seeing picture postcards of the lane in its heyday during 
the late 20's. 

Danger Beach was located beyond Moxie where Grove Avenue made a wide sweep away from the 
lake's south side. It was the beach selected by the more advanced swimmers, and shunned by the 
faint of heart because of the deeper water and the sudden drop-off. 

Inflated inner tubes from automobile tires were carried to the beaches by those who used them as 
swimming aids. And the more sophisticated brought along their water wings then in vogue for 
buoyancy. 

Two less used, but not to be forgotten, were Bloodsucker and Skylark. The latter, I believe, was 
named for a children's summer camp on the lake at that spot. 



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The Cottage House and the Union iee house are on the shore at Grove 
Avenue. The "Moxie" sign is on the small white building. 



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Skylark at the end of Fitz Terraee 



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View is about 1944, On the lower is the life preserver box, empty. These were all around the lake but 
dissappeared all at one time. 



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A section of grass? knoll between Grove Avenue and Danger was selected by the town as a site for 
the building in the 20's of a new elementary school. Another school was built at the site in the late 
30's, and in the 40's was dedicated to Mildred Rogers a revered teacher who also died in the tragic 
Coconut Grove fire with the Pitzgeralds. Another part of the grassy knoll was used to erect an 
open-air dance hall that rivaled Kimball's Starlight in Lynnfield, about 10 miles distant. Big bands 
were blossoming in the early 30's and made frequent appearances at the Silver Lake Dance Hall. 
Revelers flocked there, dreamy-eyed, and danced to the music that wafted on the summer air. 

Off Grove Avenue opposite Danger was the busy dirt road that led to the Silver Lake Railroad 
Station. It cut through a wooded area devoid of buildings, and at its beginning was Jack McLean's 
Lunch, remembered for good food. It was conveniently located for those riding the many trains 
that stopped at the station. 

The doubled-tracked railroad paralleled the old Middlesex Canal which had been a boon to water 
transportation between Boston and Lowell before railroading arrived and sunk the canal's fortunes. 
As a boy, along with others, I sometimes crossed the tracks to use what remained of the old canal 
for skating when the ice was better there than on the lake. But the lake held another attraction 
other than skating in the winter. It was that of watching the annual ice harvest and loading the 
huge icehouse, usually in February. 

It was a walk of about 2 miles from my home on 11 Main Street to downtown Wilmington, but one I 
took many times. When a sidewalk was installed in 1921, following the removal of the trolley tracks 
the walk became easier. The trolley line, which passed directly in front of our house, ran north to 



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Lowell and south to Everett Station with eonneetion to Boston. This convenience was not lost 
when bus service supplanted it after track removal. 

The walk to Wilmington Center carried me past Thompson's Grove about a quarter of a mile south 
of the Silver Lake business district. The Grove, with its wood- framed hall, could be hired for social 
gatherings. The hall also served the public for other events such as dancing, roller skating,boxing 
and wrestling which we all enjoyed. The Grove owner was Chide Thompson, a Spanish- American 
War veteran. Wrestling matches I attended were also held in Atkin's Grove at the junction of 
Nichols Street and Brown Street and bordered by the Shawsheen River. Though a much longer 
walk the matches there drew patrons from Wilmington before being held at Thompson'. 

Shawsheen Avenue which also extended into Billerica, held several interests for me. It was the 
street which my old friend, Warren (Jim) Staveley lived. I had a long association with him. 
Another interest was viewing the remains of the acquaduct that was a part of the Middlesex Canal. 
Shawsheen Avenue was also the site of two cranberry bogs that provided much merriment when 
frozen over during the winter season. One of the two was hidden from the street, but had a wooded 
path that led to it. We called it the "Back Bog." 

After passing Thompson's Grove on my way to the Center I would go by two popular night clubs: 
The Rainbow on the left, owned by the Scelzo family, and the Black Rat on the right, owned by 
Anthoney Del Torto. 



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The Pavilion at Thompson's Grove 




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THOMPSONS GROVE 



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The picture is one-third of a panoramic photo of a group outing held at the Grove in 1924. The 
group is indicative of the amount of people that flocked to Silver Lake in those years prior to World 
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THE ELMS 



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A perfect pieture of the Elm Tree. 



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Our house at 11 Main Street, Route 38, was only about 100 yards from the Tewksbury line. The 
house, a seven room bungalow type built in 1914, was bought for $4000 from Daniel and Sarah 
Medelevsky. It had a screened front porch that was a delight to sleep on during hot summer 
nights. The sound of crickets and the flashes of fireflies were good sleep inducements. Though 
we only had a hand operated pump for our water supply at first, that inconvenience was 
modernized a bit later. 

Marion Johns and Nancy Walsh lived in homes south of us on the same street. The O'Reilly's, our 
close neighbors, faced us in the back. The Nickerson's, Blair's, Porterfield's and Byron's lived just 
inside Tewksbury. Tom Porterfield and his wife had a grocery store at the corner of Main and 
Vernon Streets and also owned the Town Line Garage on the same corner. The garage was rented 
by Roger Buck until he moved downtown Wilmington in the late 30's. My father, Standly 
Woolaver, ran the garage for a few years following Bucks move downtown. 

The Rich Carter homestead, built in 1T20, and still standing was located across the street from our 
house. Harry and Mabel Carter were the owners then. Harry Carter was a pharmacist for the old 
Houghton and Button Company in Boston. My sister June and I were playmates of their children, 
Lloyd and Majorie. I remember an occasion when their family invited us to ride to Lowell in their 
1924 Studebaker to see a movie. The movie starred Bebe Daniels, and as an extra added attraction, 
Eddie Cantor made a stage appearance. Bert Milligan, a relative requiring living assistance was 
housed in the Carter home. Burt had a horse and buggy kept in a large barn on the estate. His 
morning chore was to transport Mr.. Carter to the Silver Lake station to board the train. In the 



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evening. Lloyd would ready the horse and wagon and go to the train station to pick up his father. I 
often aeeompied Lloyd as a passenger. 

The Carter estate also included a hundred or so more aeres of fields and woods. The woodland 
extended nearly through to Salem Road. Actually, a dirt road that began near their house on Main 
Street did go all the way through. Though badly rutted and grown over there were two rag or junk 
dealers, Epstein and Raminsky, from Salem Road who used it for their horse-drawn wagons. Some 
younger residents of often used the dirt road in the summertime as a short cut to Main Street and 
then to the lake for a swim. High bush blueberries were a plenty in the deep of Carter's woods, and 
great quantities I gathered through the years. What a pleasure to pick them while hearing the 
flute-like notes of the hermit thrush. It seems that we always had blueberries in our house either 
fresh or preserved. 

Chafetr's Town Bakery was located on Salem Road opposite the terminus of the dirt road. Barney 
Solow, a school classmate of mine, and his cousin Hyman Modelevesky were friends of mine living 
on Salem Road. Both were star base ballplayers in high school. 

My persuits often took me over the line into South Tewksbury. On the Tewksbury side of the 
Carter home was a field, "Milligan's Grove/'that was used by the O.M.I. cadets, a Catholic group 
from Lowell. Every summer during the 20's and early 30's they would arrive for one or two weeks 
of military drill. Their bivouac, and especially the bugle calls, created an aura of excitement in our 
otherwise quiet neighborhood. Father Sullivan was in charge; and each day he would walk his 



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cadets down to the lake for a swim. Father Sullivan was an accomplished swimmer having once 
swum out to Boston Harbor Light 

When the field used but the O.M.I. Cadets was sold in the early 30's, Rainey's Grocery Store 
opened across from Porterfield's. Two new homes were also built there, and the Higgenbotham and 
the Crowley families moved in. Going a bit northward on Main Street was a grove of pine trees 
where an Evangelistic group had a campsite and held services each summer in a tabernacle. A bell 
that clanged above a cross on the building was heard frequently to bring the flock to worship; and a 
sign extolled the message"Behold Christ Cometh/' 

Continuing beyond the Evangelist's grounds, Schmidt's Grocery store and gasoline station came 
into view. The gas station was dismantled a few years after I first saw it. Carl Schmidt and his wife 
were one of a colony of German families in that location. Hecker, Haas, Nolls, and Bischoff were 
other family names that I recall. The latter owned a bakery and had a delivery route for his goods. 
His "chelly" doughnuts were well known. Schmidt's store later became Clark's store. 

Close to Bischoff s bakery was a large track of woods where blueberries could be found. Tiny Mud 
Pond was a part of this area which also had a growth of black spruce trees. Though swampy, we 
were sometimes able to cut a Christmas tree there for the holiday, as an alternate to finding one in 
Carter's woods.A turn up State Street would end at the South Tewksbury Methodist Church. A 
right turn at this point on South Street would extend north to Foster's Corner, the site of Sam 
Brownstein's Grocery Store. 



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Rich Carter House at 2 Main Street, the sign on the tree stated Rich 
Carter- 1T20-1T21. 



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Brown Street ran off of South Street near the Methodist Church and ran in a westerly direction. 
Bill Moore, who was to become my lifelong friend, lived on a lane off Brown Street. Mike Finley, a 
colorful agrarian who came from Ireland's old sod, lived on Brown Street. I saw Mike and his wife 
often on their mule driven wagon. His friendly gesture in passing was the quick thrust of a hand 
upward, then an abrupt downward swipe before his face. Mike and Bert Milligan were friends, 
drawn together by their animals, one with a horse, the other with a mule. Further along Brown 
Street and across a grassy area on the right was a meander of the Shawsheen River that formed a 
wide pool for swimming. It was near a settlement of several Jewish families and acquired the 
colloquial name "Jews Hole." Across the road from this spot was a grove of pines that grew in a 
pattern of straight lines. It was called the "Row of Pines" and was used by the public as a picnic 
and recreation area. 

The Shawsheen River with its muddy banks provided fun for many of us in the carefree days of our 
youth. There was fishing, diving and other activities. I recall wild grapes and elderberries growing 
along the edges in places. My favorite swimming location involved a long walk along the double 
tracks of the Boston £ Maine Railroad to get there. We'd begin the trek from Silver Lake Station, 
all the while alert to approaching steam trains, and walk to the overpass in East Billerica. There at 
the base of that railroad overpass was a wide bend of the river with a delightful pool. I look back on 
it now as "My Old Swimming Hole." A daredevil named Willie Stankewitz was always ready to wow 
the gang with his high plunges from the overpass. 

In the foregoing text I have tried to present a picture of a small town Wilmington 1925-1940, and in 
particular - Silver Lake, as I remember it before entering military service in 1941. These are 



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memories I fondly hold. I apologize for any omissions, misrepresentations, or errors that might 
appear. With great dedication to this projeet I gave it my best shot. 

Sherman Woolaver 




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Rainey's Store on Main Street just at the Town Line 



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Wilmington News ad in the 30s 



<A Good Place To Eat 



The Ruby 





MAIN ST., Near Stable St., SILVER LAKE JJ 

Whether you want a complete dinner, a salad or Wi 
just a sandwich - you will enjoy this unique eating 

place "in the pines" |^ 



FAMOUS FOR ITS COFFEE 








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The "Ruty" Today 



In the pines across from the present Hobarts Country Store in South 
Tewksbury at the corner of State and Main 



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Milligan's Grove Blown Down 

The big hurricane of 1938 - the biggest storm of the century - found all of the kids in the 
neighborhood , on both sides of the Wilmington/Tewksbury line lying flat on their stomachs in 
what we called Raines's Field. (Named after Rob Rainey who ran a small grocery store where the 
Silver Lake Veterinary is situated now.) Rainy field or Milligan's Grove or the Evangelist 
Campground field or just the ball field is now the site of the "Pines." We were all on our bellies 
because it was impossible to stand because the force of the wind was so great that it would knock 
you over - so it was easier to lie down. The trees that are shown in the photo of Milligan's Grove 
were 20 years taller when the storm of "38" hit. The wind blew from Main Street right into the grove 
so that all of the trees fell into the grove and not into the field - if they fell the other way we all 
would have been wiped out. Where in the world were our ever-caring parents? All of the kids who 
eould get out of their houses were there: Squid Carroll, Freddie O'Reilly, all of the Reoughs, The 
Hughes, the Crowleys, the Hollands, Jean Porterfield, the Berubes and some others. We were too 
young and ecologically aware to understand the damage to the wonderful woods - the majestic 
pines being toppled and the roots being torn right out of the ground leaving a gaping hole and a 
half-moon pile of dirt at the roots. It took a great deal getting used to the damage that the 
hurricane did to Milligan's Grove - to see the space and light that replaced the fallen trees. 

Jean Crowley 

Editor's note - 1 was too young to go over to toe field but I pestered my mother to let me go over with the big kids. She would not relent and issued & 
firm no to my request to go on the field. Later she said that we needed a loaf of bread and would I go to Rainey* to get one (15 cents). It took me 
about 10 seconds to go from my house to Rainey's - 1 got the bread and lingered for a quick look at the trees falling down (my Mothers wisdom) and 
then started to go back. The wind howled and I could hardry make it back home, it must have taken me 10 minutes just to cross Main Street ( in 38 
there were very few cars). I gave my mother the bread and I feh that I was a part of the big kids and part of the gang. 



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Million's Grove 



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Bert Milligan lived at 2 Main Street. The field was also called Rainey's 
Field and the Evangelist Camp Meeting Ground. Now the site of the 
"Pines". 

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JOES CANOE 

While growing up in Wilmington, my home was on Taplin Avenue, two houses away from Joe Sayre 

(not sure of the spelling) who was originally from the Near East, possibly Lebanon. Joe was an 

older, stooped, dark and wiry man who had a wooden canoe with an American flag flying on the 

front. In the 1940's, especially during WW2 he would put it on its dolly and pull it to Silver Lake. 

When passing my house he would stop to get me, calling "Charlie" (his name for me) a few times 

until I joined him or choose to ignore his summons. 

We would launch the canoe near JVIoxie beach and proceed to the center of the Lake, he in the front 

and I in the rear. At his signal we would rest the paddles and then he took a framed picture of his 

son, a U.S. Army officer, and place it beside the flag. Then Joe would take a violin-type instrument 

from its battered case, rosin and bow and start to play native music. It sounded like fingernails on a 

blackboard, which was not enhanced by his vocalizing, a sound not unlike an American Indian 

death wail. At this point I tried to make myself as small as possible, hoping no one would recognize 

me, but it never worked, so I sat and suffered. Fortunately, this episode "only" lasted about 10-15 

minutes and we would return to shore, where I couldn't wait for the sanctity of the trail through the 

woods to hide my embarrassment. 

For some reason, he never asked anyone else to accompany him on these trips, except me, always 

saying 'When I die, Charlie, this canoe is yours." However, when I returned from Korea in 1954, he 

had passed on. 

Not on|y was he gone but his house had been razed, the land purchased by a neighbor and the 

canoe missing. It has never been located. 

I learned many years later that his son in the framed picture became a high official in the Veterans 

Administration for Massachusetts. 

Willie Whalen 

29 ™"~ "™^^^^~"^~ l "^^^^™ , ~™ 



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lee House and Baby Beaeh 





View of the iee house and "Baby" Beaeh on Grove Avenue. A bath 
house is on the shore at the beaeh. 



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A Tale of a Whale 

One very warm dap in August of 1967 my young son, Billy, and I deeided to go aeeross the Lake to 
Tom McQuaid's plaee at Baby Beaeh to rent a boat. We were going to row out to the middle of the 
Lake and just relax. When we reached Tom's plaee we were really surprised, some women were 
pulling Tom's hat down over his eyes and punching him in the face. We did not want to get 
involved in that ruckus so we just took a small boat and rowed out away from shore to relax. 
Suddenly the bow of the boat raised up and out of the water like a whale was bumping it. It turned 
out to be not a whale but Willie Ljynch. Willie had spotted us and swam under water all the way out 
to the boat and rocked it. My day was anything but relaxing! I found out later that Tom McQuaid 
had a problem with the women, a mother and daughter, because they were being a nuisance at 
Baby. Willie the Whale swam happily away. 

Bill McNabb, Mailman 
Fit* Terrace 



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DANGER' 

The recent blast of hot weather and the tragedies at Silver Lake aroused my memories of when I 
was a young teen. I remember those hot summer nights when we, Jim Mackey (Tewksbury) and 
Paul Morgan ( city kid up from Chelsea for the summer), would walk to the lake for an early night 
swim. Down Fitz Terrace or through Melzar's field past Skylark along the old icehouse road and 
then over to Bloodsucker. Once there we would strip down and hide our belongings behind the 
huge pine at the shore edge. Naked, we would slip into the water like a brown moccasin and slowly 
walk out in the water. Warm at first touch but gradually getting colder as we reached neck level. 
We would just stand quietly and listen to the sounds of summer; a fish swishing after a mosquito, 
same mosquito buzzing in our ears, lover's giggles somewhere along the shore, music from the 
mayor's front porch (Harrington), Miriam's bullfrog croaking, and the noisy din from Jack's Lunch. 
Then we would swim over to the raft at the Town Beach -just a quiet crawl; climb up on the raft, 
exposed to the full moon, listening once again to summer sounds. 

We knew that there were dangers lurking beneath the raft and in the lake everywhere: The six-foot 
long black and red bloodsucker with the piercing full lips, the slimy black eel ready to chew any 
interesting tid bit (a baby one pictured in the Crier recently), the giant snapper with his vile jaws, 
and certainly the old wart frog was just waiting to cover us with his wart-making ooze. We were 
lucky that it was night because the big blue darning needles were not out and we did not have the 
fear of our lips being sewn shut. 



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Time to move on. But now we would whoop it up and make our Tarzan cries and plunge wildly into 
the calm night water. Out came the flashlights - the beach police were there. Eddy Sullivan would 
pierce the night with a super light beam (State Police issue) and would try to spot us. George 
Cushing on the shore with his light - not so bright - would launch the boat and row out to the raft. 
The night swimmers are gone, slivering back to Bloodsucker most quietly. Back on the shore we 
would quickly dress our wet bodies and take a slow walk over to Jack's for a 15 cent pint of french 
fries (clams 50 cents a Pint). Once there we would meet up with the rest of the night people - all 
out on a hot summer night. Our wet hair was a recognizable clue that we were the night plungers. 
The night wore on and the friendly congregation at Jack's began to drift away, some paired. Rardy 
Byrnes and his Charlestown slickers would look tough and city like, but once they became known 
they were more kids out for summer fun at the lake. Sallie and Winnie were Chariest own girls. 

A few years earlier when the Town Beach did not exist, the "big guys" built a huge wood two-plank 
diving board that hung out over the hole. The concrete dance hall floor was behind and on the 
raised area that was once the old ice house. The bank was about five feet above the water and the 
old ice foundation wall was about 15 feet out in the water and three feet deep. The wall ran from 
the diving board parallel to the shore for a distance of roughly 100 feet - a very dangerous 
submerged obstacle. The diving hole was far away from the foundation. Archie Hughes (city 
summer resident up from Somerville) and I decided to go over to the diving board and try it. We 
arrived and got in line to climb up. The big guys asked if we could swim? What! two alligators 
being asked if they could swim. "Prove it", they said. We did, we plunged in after walking out to 
the foundation wall and showed our stuff - crawls, backstrokes, butterfly and submarines. "OR you 



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can go up." I looked at the ten-foot high board and though "wow, that's pretty high." Archie 
looked at it and said, "I wish it was higher" he was fearless. We made our dives the rest of the 
summer - jack knives, swans and regulars - plunging deep into the hole. My high school English 
teacher, Joe Donovan, told me that when he was a kid he dove in to the hole and found an old car 
there, now that a submerged menace. The diving board did not survive after that summer, all the 
"Big Guys" went off to war. 

When in college I picked up an awesome job with awesome responsibility - Lifeguard at the Town 
Beach. The beach was open for 12 weeks, 10 in the morning till 8 at night, seven days a week. The 
beach shut down the day after Labor Day. Two lifeguards were on duty, (Dan Boylan was the other 
guard) and on busy days and weekends two more guards were put on (Tex Johnston was always 
available and capable) a police officer was at the gate. A Town identification tag was needed to get 
in. But everyone was let in - Tewksbury people and summer visitors. The beach was fenced in along 
the unused portion of the beach down to the hole. The hole was fenced off at he end. Toddlers and 
waders could use the fenced- in area 

The week days were all the same, families arrived as the gates opened - by family I mean an older 
sister with all her younger brothers and sisters in tow - no adults. The teens arrived just before noon 
and spent the rest of the day being teens. Around four, the workers began to arrive and stayed 
until closing. At the same time all of the young people left to go home for supper. An hour later 
they were all back with parents now in tow. The nightly wash downs began. Beach cleared and 
* gate shut at eight. Dan ran regular learn-to-swim classes each week on a scheduled basis - no 

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charge. Older non-swimmers were also encouraged to learn. The young teen boys were given the 
same Red Cross life guard instruction as the regular life guards (no charge)- added "eyes" on 
crowded days. On the weekends, the sunbathers arrived at the beach prior to opening and set their 
blankets on the dance hall concrete slab (swept clean by the lifeguards the night before). Then as 
the gates opened the crowds came, mostly on foot, maybe 10 autos as well as bike riders from other 
parts of town. City male visitors were easy to spot; they wore starched button shirts, regular swim 
trunks, black socks and leather shoes (cool). The hand tennis games began and lasted till nightfall 
- you had to wait your turn to play. Art Lynch was the master of the hook, back spin, over spin, and 
the corner shot. He stood in one spot while his opponents ran around chasing wisps. The 
destruction of the Dance Hall floor in 1957 put a final end to hand tennis and superb sun bathing. 
As on week days, the crowd thinned just prior to the supper hour. Then they all came back for the 
final wash down. The gates closed at 8 on weekends, but the crowds did not leave - stayed to listen 
to the summer night sounds. 

The life guards did not socialize, eyes only for the heads in the water. One guard at one end of the 
beach and the other at the end. The teen juniors always ready to help out. Tex patrolled the beach 
in a row boat and watched over the raft. "The Raft" was a WWII surplus life raft about 16 feet 
square and covered with canvas . To be allowed to use the raft, one must show that he or she could 
swim, no dog paddle. The test was to swim the length of the beach and back, once done then the 
person could go to the raft. Words cannot describe what happened on the raft - talk to someone 
who remembers when it was "slippery when wet." 





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Fred "Tex" Johnson patrolling the beach. 



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I often visit the beach and wonder if I could slip in again late at night -but I only wonder. On 
another thought, the corner of the lake where the hole is, why we all know it as " Danger Beach " 

Gerry O'Reilly 



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The Lake: a year-round playground 

The lake was our year round playground. When we were young, we only went swimming in it when 
Dad eould take us, because Mom couldn't swim and hesitated to take us there by herself. I 
remember one time Dad took us when he owned a Maxwell Touring Car, and we had a garage 
which was the former chicken coop raised on posts to accommodate the car's height. Maxwells had 
fragile brakes, and the coop/garage was at the bottom of our sloped driveway, and when Dad 
applied the brake, we kept going, hit the garage doors and pushed the building back about a foot. 
The garage stayed upright and later was used continuously, until Dad decided to put up a new 
garage as an addition to the back of the house. 

By the time I was about eleven or twelve and could swim well, Mom decided we could go alone to 
the lake, but we had to take Sis. My brother, Martin, was two years younger than me and could 
swim as well as me, so we would take turns watching Sis. Most of the time, there were several 
mothers there with their kids, so Sis was not a problem. 

Mom used to pack us a lunch and give us each a nickel to get an ice cream cone from Tatters alls, 
and we would spend most of the day at the lake in good weather, but we were always at Baby 
Beach. As we got older, most of the gang we knew moved up to Moxie Beach, so we did too. In our 
teens we were at Danger Beach, with strict orders not to dive off the raft. 



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Danger Beach 



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Swimmers on the iee house loading dock (The cut blocks of ice were 
poled between the two docks and then were loaded into the ice house). 
The danger to the swimmers is quite clear, thus the name "Danger" 
beach. 



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The beaches were named beeause of their characteristics. Baby Beach had a gradual slope, which 
made it safer for little kids. "Moxie" Beach was named for the big sign at the boat rental store., The 
danger at Danger Beach was the deep hole not far off shore. Also, at one time someone threw a 
junked car in this hole and covered it with sand, but the sand washed out, leaving the junk as a 
hazard. The junks were finally removed when the diving platform was made a permanent structure. 
There was another private beach a little north of Banger, but we never went there. 

Between the beaches was eel grass and black sediment which was slimy, so we avoided it, but there 
was good fishing there. There were always a few perch and sunfish but more horned pout (the cold 
water relative) which were black, smooth-skinned, slimy things with a horn and two feelers on their 
heads. I caught one once and, to avoid having to hold it in my hand to get the hook out, I stepped 
on it, driving the pout's spike through the sole of my sneaker. After that, if I caught a pout, I 
would cut the line. 

One year, the boat house caught fire, and when the fire department arrived, they untied the boats 
and pushed them away with a stream of water from a hose. One boat drifted to shore, and my 
brother and I loaded it onto our little red wagon, which he ran home to get. When we arrived home 
with the boat, our mother made us take it back, to our distress. 



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In the fall, when it got too cold to play touch football at the field at the junction of Mass. Avenue 
and River Street, we moved into the ice house. It was a cavernous building along Main Street just 
beyond Baby Beach . It must have been 23 or SO feet tall and bigger in length and width with a door 
near the sloped conveyor system that hoisted the blocks of ice into the house during the winter 
cutting time. We would have touch football games and kicking contests and sometimes play 
baseball inside the ice house. Meanwhile, we kept an eye on the lake, as it gradually froze, and 
waited for it to get thick enough to allow skating. 

Finally, the town would send a truck to drive out on the ice, which was the official announcement 
that it was skating time. We didn't usually have time to skate on school days, but we were there 
every possible weekend. Sometimes if it was really cold, someone would go behind McQuade's 
Market and scrounge empty wooden boxes, and w would build a pretty good fire that we could 
skate back to when we had had enough of the wind and the chill., 

On weekend days, working fathers would show up to tow little kids around on sleds, and enough 
kids from other parts of town would show up to provide enough skaters to start a hockey game. 
They would improvise some goals, choose up sides and go at it for most of the day. At the same 
time, some other men would cut holes in the ice at other parts of the lake and fish for a few hours. 

A week or two after skating was safe, a crew from Walter Hale's ice company would show up to cut 



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the ice. They would hook a pulley and rope to a timber protruding from the top of the ice house and 
pull up a big eleetrie motor to run the conveyor and then put their cutting machine on the ice. It 
was a wooden sled with a large circular saw driven by an automobile engine, they would cut long 
cuts about a foot wide in the ice, starting near a channel thy had cut leading to the conveyor, and 
another man would cut those pieces about 18 or 20 inches long and float them to the underwater 
part of the conveyor belt Other men would slide them off the conveyor onto ramps or chutes that 
would slide them into the house, where another crew pushed them toward the front of the house 
and lay down one layer after another until the house was full. They would leave a roped-off area 
around the open water until it had frozen into a safe layer then take it down and their job was done. 

As spring approached, the ice would soften but would be thick enough for us to skate well into 
February and sometimes March, when the ice would be flexible enough to be called "Tidd ley-wink"' 
ice, whieh was about the end of the season. 



Joe Donovan 



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THE ICE HOUSE - AH END 



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The empty Icehouse burned down in the Spring of 1944. When the fire alarm blew 142 everyone 
arrived at the Lake to wateh as the black smoke billowed high. The mighty electric motor that ran _^ 
the whole works erashed down through the scaffolding and landed like a bomb in the Lake. *il{ 

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Jack's Lunch 

About the end of June, the summer crowd showed up. Tattersalls used to close up after Labor Day 
and return about the end of May, as did Jack, of Jack's Lunch. I don't remember when they started 
to stay year-round, but I well remember Jack's. I was in my third year of college that summer of '41 
and, as usual, I needed a job. Fortunately, I got a call from the mother of one of my high school 
gang saying that Jack needed a counter man. I had worked one time in a cafeteria in Boston and 
had seen enough of what an eating place was like so that I thought I could handle the job. I 
applied and got it. 

The woman who called me was one of the waitresses, and she worked with a couple who worked 
with Jack at his Florida place. The husband was a World War I veteran whose name was £.L, as 
was the custom in some southern states. Some of his northern fellow soldiers decided he should 
have a real name, so they called him Elmer. His wife's name was Josie, I think. He was a sight to be 
seen, when he was waiting on a booth or table of four, because he would use his right hand to put 
two plates in his left hand, curl his wrist to a position that would support a third plate on his arm, 
and carry the other in his right hand. 



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The staff at Jack's consisted of a cook in the kitchen who was in his fifties, a counter man, a short 
order cook who worked behind the counter, and the three-person wait crew. All of them were 



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Jack MeLean was the owner, and the word - from those who remember 
is that the fried dams that were cooked in Jaek's were the best that 
were ever eooked, and - the former patrons elaim - that's a faet 

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people Jack had employed for several years in both diners, exeept for the woman who called me for 
the job, and me. Jack would work in the kitchen sometimes, but most of the time he cooked the 
fried clams and French fries in the hot kettles of grease that were near the entrance of the left end 
of the diner. In between orders for clams, Jack would sit on a stool near the door and watch what 
the rest of us did. The couple and the cook lived in Jack's house behind the diner. 

One day, the short-order cook, who always smelled like whisky, apparently drank more than 
usuaKand was pretty drunk before the afternoon was over). I guess that was the end of Jack's 
patience, so he fired the man and asked me to take over until he could get a replacement. He knew 
of a young man who had worked there before, but he had taken another job. Jack called him, and 
the man agreed to come but had to give two weeks notice, so I filled in as best I could. I had done 
little cooking at home, but there was not much variety in the short-order menu, so I did all right 
except for one time. 

We hardly ever had steak at home, and when we did, my mother cooked it, usually well-done. There 
was a daily customer who owned a liquor store just over the Tewksbury line, and he asked for a 
steak one day, whieh I cooked nearly well-done. Fortunately for me, he was a nice man, but he 
instructed me about the merits of rare-to-medium. 

The waiting-cm gang worked by the old, traditional way of yelling out the orders as soon as they got 



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them and before taking the time to write them in their order books. By that time, I had grown used 
to their jargon and system. "lee the apple and draw one" was apple pie and iee cream and coffee. 
Bally" was Ballantine beer. The wait staff would take their written orders to Jack for clams and 
fries and give me meal slips to hand back to the kitchen. 

When the replacement short-order cook arrived, I got another lesson in efficiency. The first thing 
he did was to empty most of the refrigerator onto the shelves and counter behind the bar. Then, he 
restocked everything according to the frequency that they were ordered and their relationship with 
other foods in the refrigerator. Ham and bacon were near eggs, ham burg patties were near the 
cheese, and so on, much like typewriter keys are organized. He did the same thing with utensils 
and dishes and knives. As a result, he was a marvel of speed, and his brain was sharp enough that 
he could carry two or three orders in his head and know which waitress to yell at for a pick-up. 

One day a couple of English sailors showed up. Somehow they had heard of the place and how to 
get there. Jack, being an old sailor, was delighted to talk to them. He ordered a couple of orders of 
clams and fries, while he attempted to make conversation with them, but they were not very 
talkative and somewhat surly and left after they ate and headed back to the railroad stop. We never 
knew how they knew of the Silver Lake stop or Jack's or when the trains stopped there. 

It was a good and interesting summer of working. Jack and all his crew were nice people, and I 



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learned enough about cooking that my wife does not have to worry about my going hungry if she 
does not make it home on time from one of her volunteer jobs. 

That year my draft number came up, and I was off to basic training, followed by Officer Candidate 
Sehool, beeause of my history of three years of college. The next spring, after I graduated OCS, I 
came home on leave and showed up at Jake's in my brand new 2nd lieutenant's uniform. They 
were impressed and delighted to see me, and I was just as delighted to see them. Of all the various 
jobs I held earning tuition, that was the best, both because of the challenge of the job and the 
pleasantness of all the people. 

Joe Donovan 



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Smith's Bakery and Howe's Store on Grove Avenue (The arrow on the 
upper right of the picture points out the top of the Union Ieehouse). 



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LEFTY'S LAKE 

My father, Frank Gratcyk, built a cottage on Faulkner Avenue in 1921 and 1922. At that time 
Mrs. Thompson and Mrs, Miller boarded State Rids and Ralph Le Monte and his brother 
Buster lived with the Thompsons. Mrs. Miller had boys that worked her farm; Harrison Smith 
and about five other boys kept the farm field free of weeds. I and my sister Clara were about 
the same age as the LeMonte boys. Our family summered on Faulkner Avenue until 1928 
then my father bought the property on Grove Avenue and we moved up from Somerville as 
year round residents. I live in that house today. This was the old Wild Estate and John Wild 
owned the Boston lee Company. The Wilds summered in the large house on Lake Street that 
was later purchased by the Southwicks. 

We moved into the Grove Avenue house in July of 1928 when I was 13 and a half years old. 
We left Somerville a city that great schools to come to Wilmington and the eight-room High 
School and for me that was the pits. There was a great deal of work to do on the new house 
and the four cottages that went with it. They were all in decrepit condition. I sure learned to 
swing a hammer and push a saw in a hurry to get those buildings in shape. 

The stores that were on Grove Avenue were owned by Joe Mazzapica and his brother-in-law Joe 
Maraposa. They ran the store, the rooming house above it, and a Hot Dog stand. They also 
rented canoes and rowboats. Next to that was the Silver Lake Mens Club whose members 




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Grove Avenue 



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A summer day at Silver Lake. 



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were mostly from Charlestown and a new younger erew from Wilmington: Ed Neilson, Harold 
Melzar, the Howe boys, Clark Custer, and others. The Club owned the field on Cottage Street 
and had a set of bleachers that gave a good view of the baseball diamond. The games that 
were played there and were a lot of fun for all the members the fans and summer visitors. 
Next to the Mens Club building was a store owned by the Howes with rented rooms on the 
seeond floor. Then came Smith's Bakery and all of their home cooked pastries. The 
businesses were a gold mine during those times and were all run properly. 

Danger Beach was all weeds at that time and not a place to swim, but all of the ice house had 
been torn down and the area was used as a large parking lot. The parkers were only charged 
on the weekends at 25 cents a car; weekdays it was free. The area was then cleaned up by the 
Silver Lake Men's club when they built a dance hall overlooking the lake and called it The 
Silver Crest. The dance hall was open seven days a week during the summer months and 
several local bands played sweet music. One band was the O'Leary's Irish Minstrels and they 
were really good, the were a Boston group. The area around Danger beach was also cleaned up 
and the shore became a great place to swim. Jack's Lunch was the mainstay for food in the 
area. There were about 14 stools at Jack's, -Fried Clams were 35 cents a pint and T5 cents a 
quart Old timers remember how great the clams were. The activity began to slow down at the 
Lake around 1940 as the North Shore and New Hampshire became more easy to get to 
because of the improved roads. 





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Rear of the Howe and Smith stores and the Silver Lake Mens Club on 
Grove Avenue and the Moxie Sign at the rear of the Spa (see letter 
from New Hampshire Public Television). 



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P.O. Box 1100. Durham. NH 03824-1100 603868-1100 FAX 603 868-7552 Channel 1 1 Durham. 15 Hanover. 18 Pittsburg, 49 Littleton. 52 Keene 

New 

Hampshire 

Public 

Television xt ,_ , tnn£ 

November 1, 1996 



Mr. Gerry O'Reilly 

65 Wildwood 

Wilmington, MA 01887-2524 





Dear Mr. O'Reilly: 

I'm responding to your letter requesting more information on a photo that you saw on our 
New Hampshire Crossroads segment on "The Moxie Horsemobile." Normally, Fritz would 
be personally responding to his mail, but he's been quite busy these days and, since I did the 
production on that piece, I know the photo you're referring to. 

The opening images were borrowed from a collector of Moxie postcards. The postcard you 
are referring to is of Silver Lake. It appears to be the precise location you described in your 
photocopy. The postcards have been returned to their owner, Ira Seskin from Newton, 
Mass. 



It's great to hear that people are paying such careful attention to our shows. It makes our 
moments of "fretting over details" seem worthwhile. Thanks again and good luck on your 
new book. Based on the information in the Wilmington Advertiser article, I'd say it's going 
to be a great work! 

Sincerely, 
Kristi Donahue 



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Smith's Bakery and the Howe store 




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The Fabled buildings on Grove Avenue just prior to demolition. 
Labor Day at the beach in the early 50 s. 



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The Lake area had a baseball team and we called ourselves the "Maroons" and we had red 
uniforms. But in 1930 we had the makings of a great ball team and it was very rare for us to 
loose a ball game. We played them all, wherever they came from -Lowell, Tyngsboro, Billerica, 
Somerville, Woburn, Medford, Maiden - Jim Gilligan was our regular umpire, Kad Kadlec was 
our regular manager. We all skated in the winter and as soon as the snow and ice melted we 
were out getting ready to play baseball for the rest of the summer. Players that we had were 
the following; Joe Sheean from Charlestown was our catcher, Lefty Grateyk(Me), Larry 
Gushing and T. Bennet pitched most of the games, Wes Baker played first, Bob Baker played 
Second, Henry Fitzgerald-shortstop, Bucky Backman played third, Dick Kadlec, Duke Kadlec 
and Paul Lynch played in the outfield, Dick O'Neill was the back up for us. Other mainstays 
in the group were John Cuoco and Raymond Booth. Tom O'Conner became our coach he was 
a Villanova Grad and was a really good teacher and he made us a great team. When Fall came 
we switched over to football. The team members were the following: Sonny Currier was the 
QB, Halfbacks were Bob Baker and Eddie Waters, Fullbacks Joe Goldberg and Joe Galka, the 
Linemen were Paul Lynch, Dick Kadlec, Ed Johnson, Pete Galka, Lefty Gratcyk(Me), John 
Burns was the center, and the playing subs: Ray Booth, Vut Galka, Duke Kadlec, Ralph Le 
Monte, with Carroll Kadlec being the Manager. The Men"s club building was our clubhouse. 

When I was growing up there was not much money around, but if you wanted to work there 
was always a way to make a few dollars a day: 25c to 50c was the norm for hourly jobs. I got a 
job selling pictorials, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Ladies Home Journal and I walked 



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the whole Town selling them. I can't remember how long I sold them or how mueh money I 
made. After that I pushed a delivery cart for the Economy Grocery Store for three dollars a 
week for every day after school and all day Saturday. Later I grabbed a job washing dishes a t 
Jack's Lunch. Jack had a great following of loyal customers plus that he was a great dancer. 
When the open air dance floor was opened up (where the Town Beach is today) it was great 
for Jack's as it was the only place to eat. We were always mobbed on Friday, Saturday and 
Sunday nights. I made seven dollars a week. Friday and Saturdays we worked from 7pm till 
1:30am and on Sunday 8pm till midnight. We were so busy that when I went home nights the 
stench of the hamburgers and hot-dogs was so saturated into my hands that it kept me 
awake all night and I had a hard time getting to sleep. I also spent time as a short-order cook 
and had a great tutor in Jim Marshall, he was a great short-order cook. In fact all of Jack's 
people were great. He had two counter men, a kitchen cook "plus me." The only reason that I 
mention this is that one Friday night I came to work as usual and the place was quiet and 
business was slow. Then Jack told me to go on the range because Jim was out of control and 
Jack had to take him over to his house. Jack stayed with Jim until he calmed down and went 
to bed. Jack left him in the house and came back over, sounds crazy now but Jack just left him 
alone. Later that Spring Jack added a room with booths and the lunch cart became much 
larger and more help was needed. He hired two girls, Eva Sidelinker and Ruth Hale. I am now 
in charge of the range and Bob Baker is the pot wolliper. What an indoctrination to the job it 
was for me: The cook had made a gross of hamburgers and brought in a case of eggs. I cooked 
eggs until noon and then the hamburger orders came in. To make a long story short, my arms 



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looked like a "burn center." I had to flip the pans of food and there was too mueh grease in 
the pan and it always landed on my arms. But for all the orders thrown at me I never made a 
mistake and was darn proud of myself. Thank God for Labor Day and the end of Summer, the 
busy season was over - more or less. 

The next year when I was 18 I bought a Chevy Truck, I should preface this with the fact that 
the year before I had worked with Jerry Hale getting the Icehouse in shape for the winter 
harvest. So I had an in for ice delivery for the next summer. I had Bob Baker for a helper. We 
made a great team and we sold the ice for one half cents a pound and all of our customers 
made out if we liked them and we loved them all. We kept the ice boxes full for 25 cents. All of 
the ladies loved us and we gave them all a great deal and no one ever cheated us. We had a 
wonderful summer that year. The other icemen began delivering coal when the summer was 
over. I had the ice business for two years and during the second year I worked nights in 
Huntley's Lunch. All of this work did not give me much time for sports, so I quit the ice 
business. There never was a time that I was not making money, but I sure earned it. That 
carried me through my entire life. 

There was so much that we had growing up that life was great for all of us. I found many 
friends in the older groups. The Silver Lake Men's Club let me have the keys to their cottages 
for the winter, I guess so that I could be the caretaker. The group of my friends would go 
around the cottages looking for nickel bottles and gallon jugs (worth a dime) also for Saucony 



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oil cans, which were also worth a dime. The folks that rented the cottages would throw the 
bottles and cans under the sides of the cottage. If we deeided to have a party we would 
scrounge them all up for cash. And when we had 3 or 4 dollars we would throw a party in one 
of the camps - 1 had the keys. We had great times and no one was ever hurt and no one could 
ever go up stairs so there was never any hanky-panky. We all had sisters so every thing had to 
be above board. 

The Jackson Club was in the house that is on the corner of Wild and Grove. The Club was run 
by a group of men who were well-to-do and had big jobs and were the mainstays that kept it 
together. Other clubs weaned off were the "ORs", "OKOs" (men and women clubs). The 
Fitton Club was from East Boston and they were a semi-pro football team. One job that I had 
with the Fitton's was that of "BeerBoy," I carried everything for them, including the kitchen 
sink they were a great bunch of guys. For all the the beer I handled in my life at my various 
jobs , I never tasted a drop until I was 28. 



Elmer "Lefty" Grateyk 



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Black Rat, Icehouse, and Ray 

When I was about 15, 1 got a job at the Black Rat in the kitchen downstairs. My job was to run the 
dumbwaiter, wash dishes, clean the pots and pans, and keep the place tidy. The cook was a funny 
guy from Roxbury and he was a great cook. He told me that when you work in the kitchen, you 
get the best food first, and this is where I got my taste for lobster and Ballantine. 

That same year my father got me a job at the icehouse when it was the time to cut the ice and fill 
the house. My job was to push the ice cakes onto the drive chain that carried the ice up the ramp 
and into the icehouse. I was on one side and my father was on the other. We pushed the cakes 
up with long poles that had iron pikes on the end - it was hard work. When the sun went down, I 
was ready to go home and to bed. What a surprise I got, a large floodlight that was high up on the 
icehouse wall was turned on, and we then worked until midnight. We then quit and went home to 
be up at six the next morning and back to the icehouse. We kept at it for the next few days until 
the icehouse was full. I will never forget the icehouse. 

My favorite memory of the Lake was when I got out of the service at the end of the war. I was 
married to Ray Morris and we were living with her folks, Bam and Flora, in a small house just over 
the line on Main Street in Tewksbury. We had small children and there were three families living 
in the house. During the summer of that first year, I used to walk down to the Lake with a six- 
pack and a fish rod. I would fish until dark, then Ray would show up. We would sit on the fence 
and talk and just listen to the sounds of the Lake. 

Bob (Bill) Burris d. 1996 



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SLOW TIME AT SILVER LAKE 

We moved into my grandparents home on 56 Main Street directly aeross from the lake in 1938. 
The year of the great hurricane and many trees were blown down and some summer cottages were 
damaged. We were luchy and only lost the garage and some trees. Our house was surrounded by 
trees and we were always climbing in them and running through the woods. The woods were filled 
with blueberries, blackberries, and wild strawberries. The town was very small then and the kids 
that I entered the first grade with stayed with me until graduation. 

MEMORIES OF GROWING UP AT THE LAKE 

We had a hand pump in the kitchen and had to draw water from the lake to prime it. 
My Dad purchased a boat and built a wharf on the lake shore for it; we fished from that spot and 
caught some bass - good eating.Everyone had a garden and all the growing vegetables were 
shared with neighborsin the summer swimming was a daily sport, I went to Baby beach. You 
could swim at midnight if you so desired. A bag lunch of a peanutbutter jelly sandwich was an 
enough to keep you going all day. There were no life guards and no need for one as everyone 
learned to swim early and it was lots of fun. Steven's store was next to my house, a place for penny 
candy, a knuckle bone for the dog or a soup bone for the house - no charge. During the war they 
sold horse meat and lard that could be colored with an orange powder so it looked like butter. 




During the war years we had to have black out shades and my father was an air raid warden, the 
houses had stickers in the windows that showed how many in the family was off to the war or if you 



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gave to the Red Gross. At school across the lake we had drill for an air raid and had to run outside 
into the playground and make your body look like a rock. 

During the war everyone collected cans, gum wrapper tinfoil etc. to help the war effort We learned 
to knit socks for the boys overseas and we sent them out in packsges along with toothpaste, 
combs, shaving cream , and goodies. Our home was always open to servicemen and women on 
leave and many lasting friendships were made during the war years. 

Winter was a time for sledding down Pop's Hill and for iee skating by whole families; life was so 
simple and ohl so much fun. The boys liked to play ice hockey, the girls practiced their figure 
skating. We did get together for ice tag and the whip, I was on the end of the whip one time and 
landed up running on the land. 

A great thing to watch was the men cutting the ice by hand and loading the ice into the icehouse 
where it was packed in hay. In the summer we would run to catch bits of ice when the ieeman 
delivered iee to the house: he would chip the blocks for the delivery and of course chips for all the 
kids. A rag man came to sell rags for cleaning and another man came by to sharpen our knives. 

I can still hear the frogs singing me to sleep on a summer night I still hear the laughter from Baby 
Beach, I can still hear the cracking of the ice as it hardened: Silver Lake, where time went slow and 
goodness was known by all. 



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Cynthia May Corneiliussen - Gelston 



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A View from the Beach - mid 60's 




The scene dipicts the Lake in a non-swimming season as the life-lines are in and no sign of activity 
on the beach. The Betterment building has been torn down by the Town. The home-owners of 
memory are from right to left: Eaton, Hove?, Sidelinker, Steven's Market, and Corneiliussen. 



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REMEMBERED 



Going to the lake the day after the 38 hurricane 
many, many trees had fallen in the lake. 

I had a boat with a motor on it , 

I let a guy borrow it - he lost my motor. 

Boys diving, swimming, and hanging out 
at the iee house on Main Street. 

The friday night dances at Thompson's Grove 
and also the wrestling matches. 

We lived in a cottage on Harvard Avenue 
and when I got married in 1943, 1 moved 
into a smaller one on the corner of Mass 
Avenue and River. 

Marion Banker 



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John Alyward and Marion at Danger in 1944 




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The cottage on Mass. ave. 



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\l& THE CONCRETE SLAB ^ ' 

Another memory of Silver Lake is the concrete slab that used to be in the middle of the town beach. 
It was about 40 feet from what we called Danger Beach. I recall the beach being so named because 
the slope leading to the water was extremely quick and there were pilings under the surface left 
over from an old pier that jutted out into the Lake from the icehouse that was there many years ago. 
I still retain scars on my chest from diving off the embankment and scraping the top of the pilings. 
To the right as you face the Lake, behind Smiths Bakery, were granite blocks from the B£M 
railroad experiment of using a solid bed under the rails to minimize vibration within the train. It 
didnt work. So many of these blocks (about 2ft. wide x 4 ft. long x 1 ft. thick) are scattered around 
the town. Those at Danger Beach were arranged in a rectangle which marked a "no - go" zone for 
kids, except for the older ones like Gunner Garland, John Crispo, etc. 

About 50 feet to the left, almost the center of today's town beach is located, was a concrete slab left 
over from the outdoor dancing establishment. This "Slab" was probably 20 feet wide and 40 -50 feet 
long, with frost cuts every 10 -12 feet giving us a perfect handball court. Using a tennis ball and 
tennis rules (except for no net, only the center frost line) we would play for hours each day. This 
being summertime no kid wore shoes and after a couple of weeks of torture our feet grew 
accustomed to the hot concrete. The bottoms hardened and by July we could extinguish a cigarette 
b$ stepping on it! Myself, Buddy Pilcher, Charlie White and many others had some great rivalries 
during our summers on that beach "court." I would venture to say that if today's youngsters had 
that concrete slab the town beach would really be "fun-in-the-sun." 



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Willie Whalen 



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Elementary Operettas 



GRANGE HALL 



Center School 

Our Flag 
A Patriotic Musical Playlet in One Act 

By Helen Finley and Sybil Maddox 



under the supervision of 
Angelica Carabello 



Betsy A Colonial Hostess 


Dorothy Oman 


Washington Maids 






Muriel Martin 
Elizabeth Mel'/.ar 
Nancy Noble 




Roberta Hillis 

Eileen Hitchcock 

Phyllis O'Leary 


Joanne Plimpton 
Geraldine Porter 
Lois Blake 
Norma Dahlin 
Irene Foley 
Dorothy Gates 
Jean Gearty 




Alice Rooney 

Caroline Smalley 

Pearl Sargent 

Grace Smith 

Mildred Waisnor 

Julia Webber 

Julia Zanotti 


Boys 








Wilbur Thomas 
Allen Dickcnscr. 
John Foye 
Earl Henderson 
William Peters 
Rufus Stevens 
Bernard Wagstaff 




Frederick Bischoff 
j a rv.»c Field 
Joseph Gilligan 
Burtt Holmes 
John Reagan 
Bernard Surrette 
James Welling 
Robert Woods 


Bernard Brabant 

Robftf FiruUay-- 

John Good 

Everett McQuaid 

Robert Soule 

Robert Swain 

Theodore Wicks 


SCENE I 


Takes place in front of 


curtain. 


SCENE II 


Betsy Ri\ss' living room 








Musical Numbers 




1. 

2. 


We're Going to Betsy's 
Maids of Washington E 


Tea. 

ays. 



3. When the Day Is Done. 

4. The Red, White and Blue. 

5. We Are Boys. 

6. Our Fls- 



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DIRECTOR 

SCENERY 

TICKETS 



Grace E. Boehner 

John W. Crediford, Jr. 

Ruth M. Kidder 



Given by permisoion of the Willis Music Company, Cincinnati, Ohio 
Publishers and copyright owners 



TIME: 
PLACE : 



MARCH 14, 1941 

Silver Lake School 

The Inn of the Golden Cheese 

By Alta Seymour and Helen Wing 

About the year 1700 
Kitchen of the Inn of the Golden Cheese 

Characters 



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Peggy Austin, the older sister 
Tom Austin, the older brother 
Joey Austin, the younger brother 
Salley Austin, the little sister 
Granny Austin, grandmother 
Traveler, a mere passer-by 
Anne, a neighbor girl 
John, a neighbor boy 
Smiling Eyes, small Indian princess 
Periwinkle, a negro boy 
Chief Painted Feather, Indian chief 
First Indian 



his braves 



owners of the inn 



Second Indian 
Third Indian 
Fourth Indian 
Mistress Austin 
Master Austin 

William Penn, honored guest 
Other Neighborhood Children — Cynthia Corneliussen, Richard 
Dickinson, Ruth Gildart, Charles White, Lorraine Manson 
Other Idians — Richard Crispo, Gerald O'Brien, Gerald O'Reilly 
Attendants of William Penn — Robert Goss, William Fabyano 



Dorothy Whalen 

Donald Robinson 

Willis Whalen 

Cynthia Dickinson 

Mary Welling 

James Smalley 

Mary Anne Barry 

Frank Carta 

Dorothy Keefe 

James Keefe 

Basil Lovely 

Joe Brennan 
Richard Turner 
David Sullivan 
Robert White 
Margaret Biddle 
Norman Stewart 
Thomas Brennan 



MUSIC DIRECTOR 
COSTUMES - 
SCENERY - 
TICKETS - 
MAKE-UP - 



Miss Doriscey Florence 
Miss Mildred Rogers 
Mr. John Crediford, Jr. 
Miss Barbara Purbeck 
Miss Ruth Conrad 



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Coasting on "PopY Hill 




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MUD POND 

The name "Mud Pond" perhaps would not eonjure up in anyone's mind a sign of nature's glitter. 
But the Mud Pond in my book of life, bearly more than three aeres in size, ereated a special niche of 
memory as I reverse the sands of time to my carefree days of youth. 

I refer to the time period of the late '20's and early '30's. The pond located in South Tewksbury, 
was about a quarter of a mile from my home in Wilmington. Porterf ield's Grocery store was a 
landmark that separated the two towns situated on the corner of Vernon St and Main; and each 
time of my walk to the pond I would pass the store. 

The coming of Christmas was a time to visit the pond's environment to hunt down and select a tree 
for the holiday season. In woods that were devoid of the prized balsam fir, a selection from a stand 
of scraggy black spruce was not an easy choice. Though the search was a joy there remained the 
element of a chore in cutting and carrying it home. Sometimes the topping of a larger tree was 
required to get a growth of acceptable shape. My brother, Howard, would always be with me on 
those seasonal hunts for a holiday tree. We'd alternate carrying the tree home on our backs instead 
of hauling it home on a sled, as I've seen so often in books from days of yore. 

When the pond would freeze over with ice thick enough to skating, it became the site of 
neighborhood reverly both day and night. Mixed groups of boys and girls shared the merriment 
The whoops, hollers , screams, and screeches said it all. Moonlight skating added a special 
dimension because of the pond's remoteness. 



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Mud Pond offered another amenity. Interpersed among the trees but often swampy underfoot was 
a considerable growth of high bush blueberries that gave incentive to visit the area during their 
fruiting season. I was fortunate to savor many homemade pies from berries I picked there and 
brought back home to my mother. 

By coincidence, there lived on the fringe of Mud Pond, near the junction of Main and State streets, 
a small colony of families of German origin. The names:Schmidt, Haas, Bischoff, Hecker, and Noll 
strike my memory chord. They all revealed a dedicated work ethic. Mrs. Schmidt, a kindly, gray- 
haired lady, operated a grocery store; Carl, her husband, had a gasoline station adjacent to the 
store. 

The Bischoff s owned a bakery. Lights in the bakery, as early as 3am, were often seen by passers-by 
as Herman Bischoff toiled to make bread and pastries which he'd deliver routinely to customers 
later each day. His bismarks were a speciality and his "chelly" doughnuts, as he called them, were 
enjoyed by many. Also, without doubt, some of the blueberries he used in the pastries came from 
nearby Mud Pond. 

The Haas" sonl well remember as Fritz, Charlie, and Louie. Through some genetic abberation, 
Charlie, with a wise cracking demeanor and strong as an ox, had a sixth finger on each hand that 
gave him a wide, powerful grip. His younger brother, Louie, had the usual complement of five 
fingers, but had an extra toe on one foot The hands and feet of Fritz, the oldest brother, included 
no extra digits. 



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The Mud Pond of which I write was not productive for fishing, save for a few horned pout or 
pickerel; neither was it conducive for swimming. But other attributes, mentioned in this story, gave 
me a lasting remembrance of it as a place of fun, an interesting enclave visited often by me during 
those golden days of youth. 

Sherman Woolaver 



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"Mud Pond" 



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MY JOB AT JACKS LUNCH 

When I was a young teenager, I heard about a job at the new Jacks Luneh that was being run by 
Jim Arsenault Jim lived in the only two-family house in the neighborhood, the seeond house down 
towards the Lake on Main Street, I guess that it is No. 37 today. I went to see Jim about the job; he 
hired me on the spot. It was spring and I was still in school, but he said that I could work 
Saturdays only until the summer started. Then, it would be six days a week. 

I started the next Saturday and quickly learned the routine that I would use in cleaning the place 
up. The building, directly across from the Mildred Rogers school, replaced the Old Jack's Lunch 
that had burned down a few years earlier. It was a full building with five steps up to the main 
entrance (old Jack's had only a step into). There was a full cellar that was filled with supplies. 

My one job and only job was to clean the place up from the night before. It was always a complete 
mess because the only thing that had been done the night before was shutting down the fryer, 
shutting off the grill and then closeing and locking the doors. Jim had trust in me, and he gave me 
a key to get in. My day started at 8 and ended at noon. When I would open the place up, the tables 
were left just as they had been when 'last call" was made. Bottles, dishes, napkins, utensils and, 
much to my surprise, the tips were strewn around. The tips were a bonus for me. I cleaned all the 
rubbish out and stacked the dishes, glasses, cups, and silverware, so that they could be washed, 
and then I swept the floor (dropped coins were another bonus for me). I would then mop the floor 
with hot water and trisodium; the off-white floors would sparkle. I would go to the kitchen for a 
cleanup and another bonus. There was a "one-armed bandit" in the corner behind the fryer - a 



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nickel a play. But as all gamblers do, they drop their coins when they are "half in the bag." The 
fallen nickels were my bonus. When I found some, I would only pull the arm three times and most 
of the time I would make a cold hit, no jackpot but another bonus. I would then wash all the dishes 
and have a full bowl of whipped cream from an aerosol dispenser that was in the refrigerator - what 
a treat 

By then it was 11 o' clock, and Jim would usually arrive at that time. Jim was a meat cutter, and eaeh 
day he would bring a small side of beef with him. I took the wrapped beef down to Tom McQuaid to 
get it butchered. I would wait until Tom cut the eye out and then cut it into plate-sized steaks. He 
would then bone the remainder and grind it up to hamburger. The meat was wrapped, and I got the 
bones for my dog. I would then go back to Jack's and put the meat in the refrigerator. 

The next chore was to peel a twenty-gallon bucket of potatoes for the rest of the new day. By then, 
the place would be filling up, and Jim would have the lard all in the fryer and warmed up. (Jim put 
new lard in every other day to keep the clams and French fries golden brown; I disposed of the old 
fat in a barrel out back for a company from Lowell that collected it) The potatoes all peeled , my day 
was done. 

I then went to the counter and ordered my free meal. It was the same each day: a hamburger, 
blueberry pie, chocolate ice-cream, and a glass of milk. On Fridays the hamburger was replaced by a 
plate of clams. I was paid 50 cents an hour for 4 hours plus all of the bonus fmdings that were 
there for me. I was rolling in dough. I gave the 2 dollars to my Mother, and I kept all of the 
findings. 



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I had the job that whole summer and it was the "best job I ever had.'' When Labor da? came, Jim 
went back to work full time and he hired the ice cream delivery man to run the place. I was then to 
eome in Thursday and Friday after school and Saturday morning for the clean-up. The ice cream 
man began to do my job, so I went to Jim and told him I was quitting; he understood and said OR. 
About two weeks later Jack's Lunch at Silver Lake ceased to be. Jim closed the doors and the 
building became the clubhouse for the Wilmington Chapter of the Disable American Veterans 
(DAV), the new home to some of the greatest poker games ever played in Wilmington. The 
Clubhouse where the TV set was not plugged-in, it was plugged at 

Times had changed, the war was over, the cottages were winterized and Jacks Lunch was no more. 

Gerry O'Reilly 



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Submerged Memories 

You barely notiee the front door landing at Gerald ''Scratch" O'Reillys house on Wildwood 
St. - until he explains how he made it. Then you look down with respect, suddenly aware that this 
is no ordinary row of bricks. 

The story goes back more than a half century to the spring of '42 when America was at war 
and Scratch was hearing terrible news in the kitchen of the O'Reilly home on Main St., at the 
Tewksbury line. "They sank another one/' Dad would tell Mom on returning home from the Boston 
waterfront, where he loaded merchant ships with war materials bound for England. "Don't breathe 
a word to anyone." 

Although it was no secret on the docks that Nazi submarines were sinking our merchant 
ships in the Atlantic, Mr. O'Reilly and his colleagues were ordered by FBI agents to keep quiet 
about what they knew. "They say it'll hurt the public's morale," he explained to Mrs. O'Reilly. (Our 
family knew because my cousin Bill went down with one of those ships.) 

The O'Reilleys talked freely in the kitchen, thinking that their nine-year-old son was too 
young to understand those dark, wartime conversations. They were mistaken: Scratch was all ears, 
and what he heard filled him with terror. 

He imagined Nazi subs lurking under Silver Lake, just a short walk from his house. But 
instead of staying clear, he chose to fight. His weapons: bricks. 

The Bricks were left over from a newly-built chimney on the Skylark boat house at Fitz 
Terrace. Scratch passed by them four times a day between home and the Silver Lake School. Each 



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time he'd grab one, heft it, calculate the position of the hidden sub - and let fly! 

Splash! Direct hitl Ra-boom! 

Hundreds of these depths charges were hurled into the lake until, finally, there were no more 
left. Satisfied at having done his part in the war effort, Scratch turned his heroics completely to 
baseball. The bricks lay unseen and forgotten in the black water. 

Until 22 years later when, married to Anne, he was building a house for his growing family. 
It needed a front landing, but Scratch couldn't afford the materials. They were tough times (the 
good job as scientific writer at Raytheon was still a few year's away), and he was getting by on odd 
laboring jobs around town. 

Then it dawned on him: all those bricks he'd tossed into Silver Lake! But how to reeover 
them? Lugging them ashore a few at a time would be a tedious and exhausting ordeal. There had 
to be a simpler, more efficient way. 

It came to him one day in 1964 when he arrived at the house of a resident who had hired him 
to dig a eesspool and panel a room. In the back yard was just what he needed: a canoe. It was a bit 
battered and neglected, but looked floatable. 'I'd take that canoe for payment, if it's all right with 
you," he suggested to the owner. It was, and Operation Brick Salvage was soon underway. 

It worked like this. Scratch waded into the lake up to his waist, pushing the canoe with him, 
and felt around with his feet for the bricks. He wore sneakers to protect against glass; during those 
search-and-destroy missions he had also broken many floating bottles (periscopes!). Since the 
bricks were widely scattered, it was a slow, painstaking job. Every now and then, he'd plunge his 
hand down, yank one out of the muck and drop it into a five-gallon plastie bucket. In one evening 
he'd fill two buckets and float the contents ashore to his car. 



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Undetonated Depth Charge 



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When the sub area was cleared, he eombed the bottom for remains of Ten Hills lee House, 
which burned down in 1945, and continued working his way practically around the entire lake. It 
took a week of evenings and several Sunday mornings to gather enough bricks. Then he shaped 
them into a neat little front landing for his house. 

It's a solid one, too, that has born a family of eight and shows no signs of wear after more than 
30 years of service. Tm proud of it," Scratch tells visitors, and well he should be. He couldn't have 
done a better job if he'd paved the way with gold. 

- LeRoy Ferguson 

The author lives in Spain and returns to Wilmington eaeh summer for news of people he grew up 
with. 



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ff£ Boston's North End Game to Wilmington in 1940 «Q# 

Roeeo DePasquale, Sr., and his family spent their summers on Kelly's Hill during 1934 to 1937 
because Josephine Depasquale, his wife, suffered from tuberculosis. Roeeo Sr. purchased some 
land on Alain Street to build a house because the pine trees would be good for his wife's illness. 
They had a young son, Roeeo Jr., who was born May 4, 1933. Unfortunately, Mrs. DePasquale died 
on December 26, 193T before the house could be finished. 

Roeeo Sr. was left with a young son and a home partially built. His friends and family did not want 
young Roeeo to be raised without a mother, so Rocco Sr. married Angela M. DePasquale on 
August 29, 1938, with the intention of starting a new life in Wilmington. Remembering the smells 
of the North End and the fine food there, Roeeo built a restaurant and bakery. The property was a 
prime location with the Rainbow across the street, the Black Rat next door, and Thompson's Grove 
up the street, with Silver Lake nearby. 

With plenty of sand, stone, and water coming from the foundation hole, Rocco Sr. decided to build 
a stone building. He and Armando DeCarolis worked hard-day and night-to finish the building. 
Across the street in the Rainbow, Peter Neils on, another well-known stone mason, told Rocco that 
the building would not last (Rocco Jr. laughs today, as he tries to bore through the 16-inch stone 
walls to improve the restaurant.) 



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Rocco Sr. built an apartment over the restaurant where his family lived, and he opened Rocco's 
Restaurant on July 4, 1940. Rocco Jr. took over in 1963, and today Rocco's is run by Rocco Jr.'s two 
sons, Roeeo (Chuek) and Matt DePasquale. 



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Boston's North End Came to Wilmington in 1940 



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A TRIP OK THE SHAWSHEEN RIVER 

When I remember the days of my youth spent in and around Silver Lake I also fondly remember 
wading in the Shawsheen River. My mind floods with a great many thoughts of idle days spent 
wandering in the river from the Aqueduct down to the old trestle. I along with Jim and Les Jewer. 
Ray Morris, Prank Kehoe, Jim Mackey, and others would spend endless hours searching the river 
for all the mysteries it held. On any cool summer day we would enter the river in the morning and 
leave it late in the afternoon- fingers shriveled, arms goose-pimpled and body-blue, fulfilled. 

One could start at the Aqueduct at the Billerica line on Shawsheen Ave., rebuilt now but during 
my boyhood the toppled stones formed a bridge-dam across the river and an ideal place to plunge in 
for a days journey. The old canal pool was off limits to swimmers but one could always slip in for a 
quick dunk. Following the river downstream through the wooded overhangs was usually 
uneventful as the banks were solid and the river was shallow until you reached the 'Train Bridge". 
Here was one of the deepest and best swimming holes along the river. A home-made diving board 
made swans and jack-knives possible. A run down the high bank ended in a "Tarzan cry" and a 
mighty dive out into the river clearing the shallow corner. Leaving the train bridge and going down 
stream you came to what we called "Indian Rock", a large two-pieced stone on the right bank as the 
river turned. The stone was place to relax upon and to fish from. It also formed a mysterious 
beneath which probably housed a monster of some sort, we never went in. From Indian rock we 
would usually cut through the woods to Atkins Grove and the diving tree that grew on the bank 
beside the swimming hole. From the tree one could a "one-branch, a two-branch, or from the top— all 
dangerous. From Atkins the river went under Brown St. near the intersection of Nichols. When 
the river was low it was not worth the effort to go under, but if the river was high it was pure 



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The Middlesex Canal Aqueduct over the Shawsheen River on Shawsheen Avenue 



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The Remains of the Middlesex Canal Aqueduct 




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The Aqueduct ran above the Shawsheen River in a trough that was built across the river on 
Shawsheen Avenue at the Billerica/Wilmington town line. The center support and supporting 
i^^ walls are undamaged. 



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INDIAN ROCR ON THE SHAWSHEEN 






The $>oung women are canoeing in the Shawsheen River just behind Atkins Grove on the corner of 
Nichols Street in Wilmington and Brown Street in Tewksbury. The spot is not far from the present 
Jere Road. 



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excitement to go through the tunnel. From the bridge the river swung out behind the Ivas' farm 
and emptied into the Jewish Bathtub, a small pond like turn in the river. The name was the term 
used by the Jewish families that lived on Heath St. summering there up from Chelsea and Maiden 
for the most part. From the bathtub the river turned into the woods, a summer cottage was built on 
the firm bank. Next came the house on the river and then out to the wide marsh behind Brown St. 
After a while you came to the "Old Oak", a secluded spot on the river where a large tree filled a turn 
in the river. Here was a haven for "ball-a-kee" swimmers - bothered by no one and seen by few - with 
full moons abounding. From the oak the river meandered down to the dam at "MacClarenville" 
another fabulous swimming hole. From the dam the river again meandered out to the bridge at 
Route 38 near the "Pines" a long gone barroom - the site of the present R of 6. The river made a 
turn just at the end of the present parking lot, that turn was called the"Bend", what a swimming 
hole. Turning again and further down stream you would come upon O'Neills, not the swimming 
hole but the dock built by Bill for Eddie. We would talk baseball -Red Sox and Braves- and Bill 
would proclaim "keep out of the apples, they are all green" but when they were ripe we could get all 
we wanted. From there the river turned out to the open marsh coming to a cut through that 
created an ox-bow (now all grown over), a little bit further was the "Real O'Neill's". After a short 
stretch the river ran along a stand of pines and then into a wooded area and then out to Bridge St. 
From there the river ran down to the "Old Trestle" on the abandoned Salem to Lowell rail bed and 
our end-of-the-journey swimming hole. 

Of course one could not the journey up or down the river in a single day, but on any particular day - 
a summer day - one could enter the water and explore and probe - searching for adventure. 



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Life abounded in and along the river (I am sure that it still does) startled hen hawks labored flight 
was always seary. Snakes were always present - there heads with beady eyes looked out from the 
river grass - mostly three-foot blaek ones(we lived in fear that a moceasin would wrap around our 
legs under water). Turtles that we encountered were the regular old sun, all sizes, - we sold then to 
the summer city kids for a dime. The high-backed, smelly musk turtles were in every mud flat along 
the river. The treacherous large snappers were also in the mud flats and there presence was made 
in two ways: one was the sight of his bearly visible two-holed snout just bearly sticking out in the 
mud waiting for a frog or a chic-a-dee to come by then its huge head and vile jaws would be seen 
clamping upon the unsuspecting victim. The other way you eould tell if a snapper was around was 
by a sharp hissing sound - when you heard it you fled - those jaws could clutch you at any moment. 
Snappers were always present 

Bloodsuckers - we knew of three kinds; the orange-bellied brown-back about 1/4 inch wide, three 
inches long and was usually found in the sandy areas and visible as it cycled along like a slithering 
snake, only up and down in the water as on a roller coaster. The next one was somewhat larger, one 
inch by eight when in the water but golf ball size when picked up; it was browned and deeper 
orange and found in the muddy spots. The third kind were small , black and about 1/2 inch long; 
these we did not find until our journeys end. They were usually between our toes or behind the 
ankles and could be pulled off quite easily - all twenty of them. The attached bloodsuckers reminds 
me that we made the trip bare-foot, clad only in a navy-blue wool bathing suit with the original flared 
openings. 




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At each swimming hole the area was always filled with people, swimming, sunning, enjoying it all. 
Cars filled the field at the Train Bridge -Atkins Grove was shallow in one part and always filled with 
frolicking children - The Bathtub was totally in use all day and every kid got a complete scrubdown 
at the end of the day. At the Bend, bikes lined the fence while kids and grownups swam all day - 
the bikes never moved. Each hole had its own diving spot - might be a barrel, pile of rocks, or a built 
up 2 by 10 (Bill O'Neill put a new board up eaeh year for us to use). A midnight swim at O'Neill's 
was pure ecstasy, but how many creatures eyes peered out from the tall swaying grass. 

One year the season changed too quick - Fall eame and we all grew up, the worlds greatest catchers 
were gone. The turtles could rest, they would not be going to Cast Boston or Somerville any more. 

Many years later I took a eanoe trip down the river with Anne and Harry and Janet(Condrey) Beyer, 
it had not changed . The swimmers were not there and the Shawsheen was not as clean as I 
remembered it to be. 

GerryO'Reilry 



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The Shawsheen River at O'Neill's Bridge on Bridge Street in Tewksbury 



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[G (miJCMX'S LAKE 

by Joe Gilligan 



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In 1942, as a 12 year-old paperboy, I served the length of Grove Avenue, Cottage Street, and 
Burnap Street. I was not too terribly laden with copies of the morning Boston Globe (yes, there was 
an evening Globe as well), the Boston Herald, and the now-long-defunct Boston Post My father 
usually took a copy (courtesy of the paperboy) as he boarded the train for Boston at Silver Lake 
Station. He did not always have a paper because sometimes I did not perfect my timing well 
enough to arrive at the station before the train. Part of the route was to greet passengers boarding 
the 7:15 and 8:15 trains. It was amazing that so many potential passengers had the exact 3 cents 
needed for the purchase of a paper. Two of the Fitzgerald brothers always took the 7:15. Henry 
Fitzgerald always bought a Globe from me. 

The 1942 Coconut Grove fire was personally tragic for me due to my brief encounters with 
the Fitzgeralds, who, with their two other brothers, died in the flames. Additionally, my third and 
fourth grade teacher, Mildred Rogers, and her sister also perished in that inferno. 

* * * 



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Burnap Street was a hard-packed dirt road that began at the edge of a wooded area near the 
Silver Lake School. A path which remained through the woods was not easily (yet frequently) 
traveled by some of the students attending the Silver Lake School. The path was strewn with 



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mostly embedded wooden ties that had at one time supported rails that had been a part of the 
Union lee House property. The wooded area was approximately the same length as Burnap Street 
whieh ended (and still does) at Winehell Road. Without this path, the alternative was to travel 
Grove Avenue, but that was not nearly as convenient - especially for two particular students. I 
lived at Winehell Road at the end of Burnap Street, and my close friend and classmate, Freddie 
Reynolds, lived at the other end close to the path through the woods. In fall, winter, and spring 
this was the route of choice for us through grades 3 and 4. Although there were days when the 
path was nearly impassable due to rain or snow, it did not deter the travelers. However, there were 
often days when we reported to school or reported to our homes quite wet from our shoes to our 
knees. This may account for the odd patterns and color of the shoes Freddie and I wore. 

In later years, this was the shortest way to get to the frozen lake in the winter. The area on 
either side of the path was swampland, and it was frozen in the winter. Then, the path was turned 
into intermittent patches of ice that, of course, prompted Hank and Norman Stewart and me to 
attempt to skate along the hard-packed Burnap Street and over the path to The Lake. There was a 
very good reason for this - it had to do with keeping fingers and feet as feeling, functioning parts 
of the body in very cold temperatures. 

* * * 

We had a hurricane in 1938. At that time, it was not practical to be on Silver Lake in a 
rowboat just off Skylark Beach. We were apt to be blown all over by the winds gathered before the 



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hurricane actually arrived. On that day, the three intrepid seamen, my friends and I, were more 
than happy to get to shore - away from the lake - and to proceed directly home. By 4:00 p.m. that 
day the wind had increased as evidenced by the many dancing pine trees. Hank Stewart invited 
me to accompany him to the Silver Lake Station to meet his sister, Dot, who was traveling home 
from college. Armed with an umbrella we set out to meet the train. We knew all was not well when 
the wind (gale force, not yet the hurricane) caused a multitude of small branches to fall upon us. 
Dot was not on the train, and we set out for home, walking the tracks to a field near our homes in 
order to avoid more falling branches, which were now getting larger and more dangerous. 

At home in the early evening, we lost electricity, and my mother got out the oil lamps and 
candles. We found the best place to be was tucked in bed completely under the covers. The wind 
howled most of the night, and trees near the house were screeching, and, as we found in the 
morning, had been uprooted. The morning brought calm, but felled pine trees - of which there 
were many - covered our back yard. We did not realize it at the moment, but damage throughout 
the town and the eastern seaboard was devastating. The greatest damage was in the Lake 
neighborhood. We had no school for a week after the storm. My recollection is that crews of high 
school students and older detachments (and maybe 666 - Civilian Conservation Corps) toured 
the neighborhood with saws, axes, and anything else that could help in moving downed trees. I am 
sure they would have appreciated chain saws then (these, of course, were only somebody's dream 
at that time). It took weeks to clear the debris. Although eventually much of the wood turned into 
firewood, a great deal remained dotting the landscape for years to come. It was also a matter of 
years before summer cottages in our neighborhood (about 60% of the houses along Grove Avenue 



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and Bitmap Streets from the lake to Lake Street at the end of Grove Avenue were summer 
cottages) were repaired or reconstructed. For eight- and nine -year olds, the circus had come to 
town for the felled trees provided endless climbing in, on, over, and about. 



* * * 



The raft was just sitting there at the edge of the shore between the Moxie sign and Danger 
Beach. It was spotted b$ three boys (Freddie, Dick, and me) from a distance, and naturally, it 
attracted us because that is what rafts do to 10 and 11-year olds. On closer examination, we 
determined that the raft was serviceable (it floated) but could only accommodate two (the older 
two) of us. So, Freddie Reynolds and Dick Gearty boarded the raft armed only with what seemed 
to be a long pole. Meanwhile, I watched from shore on the Grove Avenue side, as they poled out 
across Danger Beach. Danger Beach - being what it is - shortly proved that it becomes deep very 
quickly, since the long pole no longer touched bottom. Paddling with the pole did not seem to 
move the raft, so Freddie determined, incorrectly, that he could swim to shore near Mcxie Beach. 
Fortunately for Freddie, Kathleen Joyce happened along on her bicycle and quickly saw the fully 
clothed Freddie splashing in the water. Without regard, Kathleen dropped her bike and ran into 
the water to assist Freddie. Kathleen's effort and courage is history. In the meantime, Dick - 
using the pole as a paddle - reached ashore, whereupon he and I ran all the way home. 



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It snowed and snowed and snowed some more on one of those mid-winter days back in 1944 
or 1945 (I don't remember exactly). Although Hank Stewart and I had tickets to a college double- 
header at the Boston Garden, it did not seem like a good idea (to our parents) to walk the two and 
one-quarter miles through the storm to Wilmington Center to catch the train to Boston. By the 
time we arrived at the Wilmington Station, we were wet, cold, and generally miserable but happy to 
see that other ticket holders were as silly as we. All members of the Wilmington High School 
basketball team had been given tickets, but not all elected to fight the snow storm. The game is not 
particularly memorable except to note that the first game pitted Hamlin College (what?) against an 
opponent unknown to this day. Howie Schultz (who?), later a first baseman for the Brooklyn (yes, 
Brooklyn) Dodgers, played for Hamlin - as you probably all remember. 

As stated, the game was not particularly notable, but the snowstorm was. We all boarded the 
train to return home following the game. No trains had left the North Station since somewhere 
around 7:00 p.m., and our train was not going to leave until sometime after 1:00 am. with people 
standing in aisles and small people resting comfortably on the over head baggage racks. The train 
made every stop on the Boston-Lowell line, including Silver Lake where Hank and I jumped off the 
train into what we thought was a snowdrift. It wasn't a drift - the real drifts were up to our necks. 
It proved to be more difficult walking through that 3- and 4-foot snow to travel home a quarter mile 
than it had been to walk nine times further earlier to Wilmington Center! 

The storm was further notable for the tremendous drifts which accumulated on the Grove 
Avenue side of the lake. It had been impossible to get a plow through any part of Grove Avenue. 



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Before long, residents began to run out of oil, and in order to provide relief, Eddie Lyons attempted 
to make deliveries by coming into Grove Avenue from the Lake Street end. He got as far as the 
junction of Lake Street and Grove Avenue where his oil truck remained stuck for several days. 

Before long (since everyone traveling Grove Avenue had to walk) a path was formed along 
the top of the drift beside the lake that was anywhere from 5 to 8 feet high. Passing other walkers 
coming in the opposite direction was an adventure in itself. If you were traveling that path with 
friends, you may have found particular difficulty maintaining your footing on the hard-packed 
snow atop the drifts. It did not take long to discover that one could slide nicely down the side of 
the drift from its high points all the way down to the frozen lake. Usually snow was shoveled or 
scraped off sections of the lake for playing hocked or just skating. Not this time. 

* * * 

I don't think I ever knew that the once open-air dance hall at Silver Lake was known as The 
Silver Crest. I did not know the name, but I knew the place. When I first became aware of the 
open-air dance hall, it was toward the end of its reign as an attraction, but I do recall it being 
brightly lit while it operated at night. It was fenced all around, and at the entrance there was a 
ticket booth, and at the far end there were a few other enclosed spaces. The main feature was its 
concrete dance floor which remained just about intact until the time of the construction of the town 
beach. Floor parts around the dance floor were of wood. The wood flooring and other wood 
remains gradually disappeared, primarily in the winter months when ice skaters were prone to 



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make bonfires on the frozen lake. What better, more convenient source of firewood was there than 
all that wood. Well, maybe there was one other convenient source - Christmas trees. There were 
may contributors to the Christmas tree bonfires on the lake. The fires not only warmed skaters but 
attracted those who normally would forego a night on a frozen lake. 

When all that remained of the dance hall was the concrete platform, it was still an attraction 
but for different reasons. The far end, away from Danger Beach, was an ideal sunbathing mecca. 
The near end was divided into a near-perfect hand tennis court. This, in my time, was the constant 
summer activity from morning to late afternoon. Always in attendance were Art Lynch and his son 
Willie, Bob Baker, Boo Shepard, Turk and Hank Stewart, Billy Shepard, and Tex Johnston. Many 
other "regulars" I have forgotten. None of these regulars played at 12:00 noon however, because 
you either went home or listened to a thoughtful someone's radio to absorb the latest antics of the 
Bob and Ray (Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding) show. These hand tennis matches were very serious 
business, and the general rule was to wait your turn to play the winner of the previous match. 
Supposedly, no one kept score of matches won, but the reality was everyone kept score of matches 
won. 



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When the cold weather became a serious and constant visitor, the back bog was the first large 
area to freeze, and thus, it attracted most of Silver Lake's (and other's) aspiring hockey players. 
There was one rather large obstacle that might be described as a game delay. The nature of a 



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cranberry bog calls for a channel down the middle of the bog to induce flooding at certain times. 
Unlike the shallow water that freezes very quickly, the channel remains open and unfrozen. 
Although every effort was made to keep the puck away from the channel, the inevitable happened. 
Sometimes, it was the only or the last-available puck that found the channel. This might be 
described as a game ender. It got worse. Sometimes, the puck reached the edge of the channel, 
still on ice, still recoverable by a small, lightweight young player. When called upon to perform the 
recovery mission, the designated recoverer sometimes opted to: a) hear his mother calling; b) 
recover the puck; ore) go home wet. More often than not, the puck was recovered, but going home 
wet was an infrequent but real occurrence. I was much relieved to relinquish my stint as the 
lightweight. 

For many different reasons, ice on the lake was awaited anxiously by many people: ice 
skaters, hockey players, ice fishermen, commercial ice cutters, ice boaters, and, of course, those 
guys who drove their cars onto the lake and spun around freely as they attempted to stop or 
accelerate. Naturally, the police would eventually come and chase them off. They may or may not 
have been cited by the police, but they were sighted by all the watchers. Not wishing to cast 
aspersions, I hesitate to name the participants. I'm not even sure who they were, but I suspect Joe 
Duggan might know. I'll have to ask Joe one day if any of his brothers knew any of the men. 

When the wind blew across Silver Lake in the winter, it wasn't just cold; it was often 
powerful. On some days you could coast, on skates, all the way across the lake with the wind 
providing all the force necessary. To be sure, getting back to where you started was more than a 
little problem. Although the strong winds did not deter the hockey players, there were attendant 
problems, since you were either skating into the wind or with the wind or being sideswiped by the 



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wind. Of course, even on a calm day, the puck was apt to travel halfway across the lake, which 
meant that someone had to expend their energy in recovering it. 

Hockey equipment was a rarity in the games on Silver Lake. The Melzar brothers (Ted and 
Eliot) were the envy of most because they had those padded gloves that protected their hands. 
Like many others, my first pair of shin guards (you soon found these to be quite a necessary item) 
were no more expensive than two Western Pulp magazines and the string or rubber bands to 
secure them to one's shins. 

Ice boats were occasional visitors to the lake. Here the wind was a great boon to the riders. 
My recollection is that they generally operated when the winds made the ice surface relatively clear 
of skaters. 

Although the ice fishermen cut holes all over the lake for their lines, the holes they made 
would be frozen over by the next day. This saved a lot of pucks while still making it easy to kick a 
hole in the ice with a skated foot to get that needed taste of water that in the summer you wouldn't 
dream of drinking. 

Without a bonfire, skating at night could be uncomfortably cold but not cold enough to 
prevent the excursion. True, by the time you got your skates tied, your fingers were freezing, and 
by the time you started home, your feet were freezing. There were nights when dozens of people 
were on the ice and other nights when three or four skaters had the lake to themselves. 

In retrospect, it seems that we skated every winter day on the lake or the back bog or sections 
of the old Middlesex Canal or anywhere else there was a clear patch of ice. It's not true, but then 
the skating season didn't really last seven months as it seemed to us anymore than the summer 
season seemed to last six months. 



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Once the ice had been cut and stowed in Hale's ice house on the Main Street side of the lake, 
the water in the area from which the ice had been taken would again freeze over but not nearly as 
thick as the rest of the lake. The new ice, when it became safe enough to support bodies, was not 
only relatively thin, but it was also clear enough to see an occasional fish beneath the frozen surface 
better and cheaper than from a glass-bottom boat. 

I am hard pressed to recall where we found the time to pursue one of our favorite outdoor 
winter activities, sliding down a slanted surface on a wooden platform supported t>y metal 
"runners." Hard pressed to recall since we spent most of our waking hours skating on local ice 
surfaces with a little time off to attend school, sleep, and eat. Perhaps, in the days of my youth, 
there were more hours in the day and a few more days in the week than the standard today. 



* * * 




You would not know it now, but the Lake Street Bridge over the B£M railroad track had been 
a magnet for sledding. When there was a crowd, you simply did not get on your sled and slide 
down the slope toward Lake Street and Grove Avenue. Some sleds or sledders did travel that far 
and beyond but not everyone. If you did not like the challenge on that side, you could always to to 
the other side of the bridge, headed toward Shawsheen Avenue, where it was quite safe. 
Challenge? If you chose to compete, and most did, everyone, holding his or her sled at chest level, 
would stand around at the crest of the bridge. The way to get on the sled was to run down the 
slope and slam the sled and your body onto the hard packed snow. The more cars that had passed 
over the bridge, the better the sliding surface would be. A few sleds were too big and heavy to hold 



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and run with. Usually these sleds would earry two persons. One would push the sled and jump 
on top of the other when well underway Infrequently, a daring pair would sit on the sled instead of 
lying down on it. The object of the exercise was to "ditch" another sled. This consisted of 
somehow grabbing the led or the runners or the trailing feet of another rider and tipping or turning 
the sled into the snowbank on the side of the roadway. Once out of control, you were an easy mark 
for others. There was a lot of bumping and jostling as well as the "ditchers" becoming "ditchees." 
There was also a lot of standing around at the top waiting for someone to begin the parade. "Go 
ahead, I'll protect you" was a meaningless phrase used to encourage a start. 

Once in a while some foolhardy child would attempt to slide down the steep embankment 
from the edge of the bridge down to the tracks. I shredded my trousers and scraped my legs 
attempting this feat. 

A popular sledding location was the hill from Pop's Farm (The Elms) at Glen Road and 
Harnden Street. There was a bit of a problem, however, at that location, inasmuch as Lubber Brook 
had the right of way at the bottom of the hill just as you had begun to slow from your maximum 
speed. Unfortunately for the maximum speed sledders (you could travel slowly if you wished), the 
moving water of the brook did not freeze over. Of course, the solution to the possibility of gliding 
into the brook was simple: just stop the sled by making yourself fall off or by putting your heels into 
the snow and hoping for the best. Once in a while, the best was hopeless. Fortunately, Fred 
Sheen an, a schoolmate at the Silver Lake School, lived in a warm home nearby. He got wet as often 
as the rest of us. His mother became used to wet company calling. 



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It is probably more or less accurate to refer to Mrs. Roberts as an Overseer. What she 
"oversaw" was the removal of weeds from th ecranberry bog on Shawsheen Avenue. She spoke 
with what we believed was a Swedish accent and somehow seemed to remain calm and 
unperturbed with the work progress. My best guess is that from 15 to 20 people were overseen at 
any given time on or in the bog. This introduction simply serves to note that Dan Wnadell and I 
were, for a brief period, employed by Mrs. Roberts to assist in the defoliation of the unwanted 
portions (weeds) of the cranberry bog. If I were to say that we worked at the bog, in today's 
vernacular, that might be a stretch. Fortunately for the weeders, the bog had been drained from its 
winter flooding. 

This was not a fun time in our young lives, for much of the day was spent either on hands 
and knees or bent at the waist seeking, sighting, and spearating the evil weeds. The principal 
relief came when your bushel basket was full of weeds, whereupon it would be taken to the side of 
the bog and dumped. On occasion, depending upon your deceptive skills, you could make this trip 
consume a good deal of time due to the long, weary walk across the bog. While getting your legs 
to work again, after the difficult work, you had to be careful to avoid those ditches. Despite the 
excellent pay (eight cents per hour), we soon lost our ambition to be saviors of the cranberry bog. 
Mrs. Robers seemed to notice this too. Our ultimate downfall occurred one early morning as we 
walked the path through the woods from the railroad tracks to Shawsheen Avenue beside the bog. 
Quite suddenly, Dan discovered that it was not a good day to work after all. He convinced me of 
the same in short order. Mrs. Roberts also traveled this same path on her way to the bog. Of 
course, we knew this, and, therefore, devised an excuse should we encounter her on the path as we 



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walked in the wrong direction. Dan decided, and he announced to me that he was going to say, "I 
don't feel very good/' Of course, just our luck, we did met Mrs. Roberts, who said, "Veil, boys, 
which way are you going?" I quickly stated, "I don't feel very good," which sort of stunned Dan 
and left him to stumble and stammer over the words, "I don't feel so well, either." Apparently Mrs. 
Roberts did not mind repeating this brief encounter to our former fellow weeders, since we were 
later told by the others that she spent a portion of that day muttering, "He don't feel good, and 
Vondell, he don't feel so good either." 

We sought and found refuge at the Lockhaven Farm at the corner of Nichols Street and 
Shawsheen Avenue. The pay there was a dramatic increase to ten cents per hour. 

Workaholics that we were, we were also able to pick up a few pennies after church on Sunday 
by picking beans at Pike's Farm at the invitation of Danny Pike. The bean field no longer exists, 
since Avco (Textron) made a softball field out of it. 

There were no shortage of work opportunities for Silver Lake boys. 



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"There's always something doing at..." What was that expression? Well, anyway, there was 
always something doing in the Grove Avenue/Burnap Street area For example, on the corner of 
Grove Avenue and Winchell Road lived an old Gharlestown hand named Annie Gushing. Annie 
operated a weekly bingo game in her fenced-in front yard. The fence was steel wire of the kind 
kids liked so much because you could fit your feet in the spaces and climb the fence with ease. 
Many of Annie's fellow "Townees," as well as neighborhood ladies living in the area who were from 
Somerville, Medford, Everett, and who knows where else, never missed the weekly game. 



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The bingo gatherings must have totaled between 25 and 30 chattering ladies. Hank and/or 
Norman Stewart used to sell tonie (soda, if you prefer) from their mother's store with Annie's 
permission. Since no children were allowed within the fence (children could be disruptive), we 
contented ourselves by hanging on the fence to watch the action. The action, to use a phrase, 
consisted mainly when the caller produced and announced the number 62. We all waited in 
anticipation because, at that call, without fail, a woman who was always in attendance never did 
miss shouting out, "Good old sixty-two!" What did it mean? We never knew. 

When not hanging on Annie's fence, we might be engaged in the game of "Peggy." For this 
you needed a flat wooden bat, about four inches by twelve inches, with a narrow handle at one end. 
It looked like a harmless meat cleaver. The "peggy" was a round piece of wood, about one or two 
inches in diameter, maybe four inches long and sharpened to a point on both ends. We used a 
court (the hard-packed surface of Burnap Street) which consisted of a one foot circle drawn in the 
street and a line about twenty five feet away. The game went like this: from the line, the pitcher 
(for lack of a better term) threw the peg or peggy, trying to get it into the circle. If it landed in the 
circle, the would-be batter was out. If it landed on a line of the circle, the batter was allowed one 
swing at the peggy. The batter got three swings if the peggy was completely out of the circle. 
What's a swing? With the bat, the batter tapped one of the pointed ends of the peggy making it 
rise into the air. Then he hit it while it was in the air. The idea was to get the peggy beyond the line 
and as far from the circle as possible. After three swings (or one) the pitcher picked up the peggy 
and threw it toward the one foot circle. The batter measured the number of feet (length of the 
batter's foot) from the outer edge of the circle to the peggy. The pitcher had two options in 
combatting the peggy. He could catch the peggy in the air, and the batter would be out, or or with 



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his hand, he eould slap the moving peggy toward the circle. 

Players often took pains to make their own bats, and everyone always had a peggy, just in 
case another one was suddenly needed. Father Walsh, a priest from Arlington, owned a house 
next to our peggy court. His nephew, also Father (Jim) Walsh, and Eddie Doherty, their driver and 
jack-of-all-trades, both spent much of the summer on Burnap Street. Father Jim and Eddie just 
happened to have their own homemade peggy bats. 

A simple question ofter accompanied a game of peggy. 
To wit... Was the peggy still moving or was it stopped when you slapped it back? There was also a 
constant caution...You must always attempt to avoid catching the peggy with one of the points 
facing your hand. Did we really spend hours playing this silly game? Yes. 

We called him Jaffrey (his name was Jeffrey). He didn't seem to care one way or the other 
because no matter what we called him he remained completely unaffected and unresponsive. 
Perhaps because he was a rather large Saint Bernard dog, he could certainly afford to be 
indifferent. Jaffrey was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Gesare who lived on Main Street very near the 
Tewksbury line. We didn't go there to visit Jaffrey. He came to visit us. Well, I say "visit', but in 
reality he was just passing through our neighborhood. He was special to us because he looked like 
an anmial that could provide us a little ride on his back. It didn't quite work that way. Although he 
never really tried to dislodge us from his back, he just kept ambling along, and we dislodged 
ourselves, because it was simple impossible to hang on for more that two or three of Jaffrey's paces. 
Jaffrey showed up often on his walks through the whole Silver Lake area He likely wandered 
three or four miles from his home. I've often wondered if kids in some other neighborhood, distant 
from ours, also experienced the joy of docile Jaffrey. 



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We spent a lot of time playing baseball or football or just running around on what we called 
Pop's Field. It was land owned by Chadestown resident Pop O'Brien. Pop was Herb Peterson's 
grandfather. The field, however, was open territory during the months when Pop and his 
grandson, Walter O'Brien, were not in attendance. It was located less that half the distance toward 
the end of Burnap Street which formed one side of the field. On one end was O'Brien's house, and 
on the other a wire fence (easily scaled) with a wooden top rail and wooden posts. Within the 
fence, which stood about five feet tall, was an apple orchard and two mean spirited black Chow 
dogs with the personalities of Pit Bulls and the tenacity of Bulldogs. The orchard and the dogs 
were owned by Mr. and Airs. Pearson, an English couple and drivers of an old car with right hand 
steering (as Hank Stewart reminded me.) The field provided hours of entertainment. The Chows 
were another story. They acted as if they owned the place. Invariably a ball of some kind would 
find its way over the fence into their purview. Retrieving it could present a hazard. The standard 
maneuver was to have one person go to a portion of the fence as far away from the ball as possible 
and create a racket by shaking the fence, yelling, or doing whatever was necessary to attract the 
dogs. Another person (I think we democratically took turns.) would go over the fence, grab the 
ball, and retreat with haste. It always worked. I don't recall anyone ever being caught by the dogs. 
There were occasions when the ball was as far away from the fence as was possible. Discretion is 
the better part of being stupid enought to try and get that one. We'd leave the ball. 

Pop O'Brien had a shed on his property with a small birch tree about two feet away from it. It 
was here that we probably learned that birch trees were quite flexible. That is to say, we could run 
across the roof of the shed and leap onto the tree and ride it gracefully to the ground. The tree 
would spring back to its original position when released. Of course, this phenomenon caused us to 



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examine every birch tree in the general area We found a stand of tall birch trees growing quite near 
the Lake Street railroad bridge. We needed only to stand inside the bridge fence to easily reach the 
nearest tree. However, if we weren't quite heavy enough, the tree would leave us hanging about 
five feet from our destination. Always something doing at...? 

I'd like to take some space to tell you a little bit about my father, a Silver Lake resident for half 
of his life. He had some relevance to the lake in that he did not just live there, but he influenced 
the area as a sports enthusiast. 

My father was a fervent sports devotee. If he was not engaged in sport of some kind, some 
way, every day, he then resorted to being a fan. For my father this was not an easily acceptable 
alternative. 

In our back yard he had built two tennis courts, one of thin cement and the other of packed 
earth. The packed earth required frequent rolling which often engaged my father, and 
unfortunately I was neither old enough nor strong enough to manhandle the water-filled roller. 
The tennis courts were well-used since one of my father's avocations was giving tennis 
instructions. Many of his instructees were summer Silver Lake residents, among them a young 
girl named Sullivan, who ultimately became nationally known in the tennis world. By the time, in 
my father's eyes, I was old enought to benefit from his instruction, the cement court had become a 
little run down, and the packed earth court had become unpacked by my mother and her "victory 
garden". I can recall another use of the tennis court as viewed from my bedroom windown. The 
court was lighted by several strings of lights( provided by Eddie Page from Grove Avenue) in order 
to provide a area where football practice could be held at a time when the players, all working men, 
could assemble. I have no idea where their equipment came from, but I don't recall any two 



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helmets that looked alike. Who were these guys? I barely remember save for Petey Morrison who 
was the quarterback and lived on Grove Avenue in the last house on the left before the Silver Lake 
School, and of course, Eddie Page and Dick O'Neill from Tewksbury. I would be guessing if I tried 
to name more. My neighbor, Hank Stewart, was an occasional spectator, and he might recall more 
names. These games took place in the late 1930's. 

Baseball was my father's passion. For as many years as I can remember he managed a local 
baseball team. W.A.D.A. was the general appellation applied to the Wilmingon Athletic 
Development Association. This later evolved into the W.A., the Wilmington Associates. These 
were the letters on the shirts of the players, and these were the organizations supporting the 
baseball teams. My father had a large hand in forming and running these organizations as did Carl 
Connors and Gardner Ritchie and others whose names I have unfortunately forgotten. There are a 
few people about today who would recall the W.A.D.A. and the W.A., but one of them would be 
Lefty Gratcyk. These groups had access to the old Men's Club by Moxie Beach where they met 
and ran money-raising events such as dances. (As an aside, that same building served as a 
basketball practice area. But that is another story.) 

The baseball players traveled by car, and more than a few could be fitted into one of Harry 
Stewart's Studebaker touring cars which to us small folk seemed ike a bus. My recollection is 
better regarding baseball players, and although there were roster changes over the years, these are 
some of the players I can clearly recall from those very early years: Dominic Corsetti, Louie 
Balestrieri, and Junior Ferrule, from Woburn; Dick O'Neill, Jackie Nolan, and Billy Houlihan, from 
Tewksbury; Beano Lawler and Joe Sheehan, from Charlestown; Lew Webster from Billerica; and, 
from Wilmington, Lefty Gratcyk, Larry Cushing, Bucky Backman, Bob and Wes Baker, Sonny 



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Baldwin, Johnny Cuoeo, Vut Galka, Joe App, Willie Mozak, Johnny Polcaro, and Burt Proton (he 
caught using only a mask). Forgive me if you know of others in this category that I have 
unintentionally omitted. 

My father managed these teams, and I can picture him now on the bench, wringing his 
hands, muttering to himself, and muttering (not always to himself) uncomplimentary things to the 
umpires. He later became an umpire himself. As I search my memory, a couple of instances come 
to mind. On the day before a scheduled game, apparently there was a pitcher shortage. Solution: 
Bring Sonny Baldwin into the backyard tennis court and teach him to pitch. He later won the 
game. My father was a teacher and a talker and should have been a salesman. While painting part 
of our house from a ladder on a warm summer day, two of his ballplayers stopped by. It wasn't long 
before Billy Houlihan was on the ladder, Jackie Nolan had a brush in his hand, and my father stood 
on the ground watching. Shades of Tom Sawyer! 

Bobby Doerr of the Boston Red Sox was one of the professional baseball players that my 
father admired greatly. A nurse at Maiden Hospital, where my father was a patient, had been 
made well aware of my father's love of baseball and of one Bobby Doerr. As chance would have it, 
the Boston second baseman was visiting the hospital to see an aunt of his. Naturally, the nurse (I 
wish I knew her name.) convinced Mr. Doerr that he could make a major contribution to the 
wellness of another patiend should he take a moment for a quick visit. Mr. Doerr agreed. To my 
father this was a "Make My Day" event. 

After I jogged Hank Stewart's memory, he was able to come up with some items of 
information that are interesting in the associations some of our neighbors had. I do recall the 

bors cited, but I am unfamiliar with the connections that Hank recalls so vividly. 




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Marion Powers, who later married one of the Cains, maybe Fred's brother, but Freddie, Bob, 
and Jimmy s uncle at any rate, was a summer resident whose family lived in a cottage on Grove 
Avenue. Marion was our age and we knew Marion and her friends for a number of years. We 
believe, but we're not entirely sure, that her family had a relative named Dave that made an 
occasional visit to their cottage in the lake area. Regardless of the relationship, or non-relationship, 
some years later, Dave courted and married Josephine (Sis) L#neh whose family, Arthur, George, 
Billy, Paul, and Alfred, also lived on Grove Avenue. Dave was one of many people who campaigned 
for an up and coming young political hopeful named John F. Kennedy. Dave was from 
Charlestown and was more than a little helpful in convincing his townies that this kid was going 
places. Of course, this was the same Dave Powers that was one of Kennedy's confidants and who 
later became the first curator of the JFK Library at Columbia Point. 

Two houses from the corner of Grove Avenue and Winchell Road toward the Lake Street end 
of Grove Avenue lived John andBabe Regan. Years after Babe passed away, John remarried. The 
widow of former Boston mayor Maurice Tobin (Are you familiar with the Tobin Bridge?) was John's 
new bride. 

Mr. and Mrs. John Quinlan and their only son, John, Jr., lived on Burnap Street, three houses 
from mine. Hank Stewart tells me (I never knew this.) two items of interest. John, Sr. was the 
secretary to the Mayor, and the one time guest of our penal system, James Michael Gurley. 

Hank also recalls that John Quinlan wrote in a unique longhand script that today would 
readily be mistaken for a font provided by your computer. (How does he know that?) 

A sad note regarding the Quinlans: John Quinlan, Jr. was the fifth Silver Lake resident to 
perish in the Coconut Grove fire. 




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One more item concerning these two families, the Lynches and the Quinlans. When the 
Silver Crest open-air dance hall was in full swing, they had an event similar to amateur night when 
local talent or alleged talent could perform. One such amateur performer was Molly Lynch, 
Josephine's older sister. She was a singer and had her own accompanist, John Quinlan. To the 
amazement of all of us who knew the flamboyant Molly, she became a Catholic nun. 



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Joe Giltigan -c,1937 



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UP FROM THE SHORES OF CHELSEA 

We probably got to Silver Lake beeause our relatives the Bagleys lived there, on the corner of 
Warren Road and Lake Street. I will list some of my summer memories of the lake and the people 
that I knew. 

Horse baek rides at the stable on Vernon Street, the Bay State Riding Academy - George 
Ackerman flying down a path to the lake on horseback. - Picking blueberries around the Lake, 
some on low bushes - Catching frogs with a piece of red cloth, also catching turtles - Dances at the 
pavilion where the Town beach is now - Train Whistles - people going through the woods to the 
train station - Bike riding "lickety split" through all the paths around the Lake - Playing with our 
puppy - it died, then my Father explained life and death to me - New sneakers - almost with wings 
on them - Bonfires on the "Fourth" - Old man Dinan always had a barrel burning - Mrs. Barry 
gardening - Old Man Griffin and his black dog - he was always friendly - Mrs. Coughlin's Store - 
the only phone in the area was there - The big rock on Lake Street - Jimmy Lawlor - Never came 
back from the War - Fluffy Jordan's house with the outside lights and his Big Black Packard - We 
got our prime water from Mrs. Strem to get the pump working - Armando DeCarolis driving a 
Model A - Dances at the South Tewksbury and the Silver Lake Betterment's - Minstrels shows at 
Saint William's in the 40s - Oblate Fathers bringing milk around to the parishioners - Summer 
folks up from the city dug five-foot deep holes in their yards to fill with summer rubbish, filled it in 
the next year for a new one - Climbing up the Aqueduct - Hiking along the railroad tracks on 
sweltering days - Watching the trains go by from the bridge at Lake Street - Stewart's Store on 
Grove Avenue - Mrs Pulsifer, the Cat Lady, wearing overshoes in the summer and pulling her 



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wooden eart - We got our iee at the icehouse, 25 cents for a two-foot long block, dragged in home in 
our cart that was covered by a rubber raincoat, then the icehouse burned down - If the ice chest 
leaked only a little bit of water, the whole floor would be washed - Steven's Market - Riley's gas 
station - McQuaid's Store - Picked blueberries to sell or 25 cents, carried them a quart bottle or a 
Quaker Oats container - On the real hot days we had to reline the seams of the tarpaper rolls on the 
roof with hot tar, I can still feel the heat on my sneakers - Playing football at Thompson's, baseball 
at Benson's - Rafting on the Lake, some boards nailed to an old log - Fire whistles blowing on a 
foggy night, My Father would say "Someone drowned." Charlie Collins and a friend up from 
Cambridge, they died on a cold November night in the dark waters of Silver Lake - In 194T the 
neighbors on Dudley Road dug up the street so that water could be put in. 

BobHorgan 



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SAINT MARYS 



In the early 40s, the Silver Lake Catholic Literary Association deeded the Woodland Movie Theater 
to the Archdiocese of Boston and the building became an official off-site chapel for Saint William's. 
The building was then remodeled. The structure was raised and a full foundation was put to 
support the renovation. After that, one entered the building by stepping up three steps to a now 
level chureh interior. The five steps down were no longer there and the camera hole at the back of 
the building was plastered over when the roof was raised and the ceiling put in. The two coal 
burning cast iron stoves were replaced by an automatic stoker boiler in the basement that fed pea 
coal to the burner. (Well remembered is the warmth that the coal stoves provided on many a cold 
winter Sunday morning.) The confessionals were boarded in and no longer were the sins of the 
members loudly heard. The white lamb was replaced by a modern brown one. Willie Noll and the 
choir had their own corner to serenade the parishioners. The cooling fans remained for summer 
use. The short-armed mahogany collection boxes that Walter and Gene used were replaced by long- 
armed bamboo collectors. The loyal parishioners arrived too late to get the Colonial styled pews 
when the new pews were put in. The non-church goers got there first and made off with the 
coveted seats. 

In the mid 50s a new church was opened at the old Thompson's Grove - Saint Dorothy's. The doors 
to the old Saint Mary's closed and the building was sold to the Tewksbury Veterans of Foreign 
Wars. The building was ravaged by fire and finally torn down. 



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St. Mary's Church 




Former home of the Silver Lake Library Association; it then became the 
Silver Lake Catholic Literary Association. St. Mary's Church was 
located in the building until the new church was built in Thompson's 

Grove: St. Dorothy's. The site is now the Tewksbury VFW. 

... L — u6 



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SAINT MARYS 



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SAINT WILLIAMS AND SAINT MARY'S CONFIRMATION - 1943 



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Jeannette Alhman 
Joe Alfano 
Pat Aspell 
Eleanor Barrett 
Dorothy Baxter 
Clair Bemis 
Mary Bemis 
Agnas Benoit 
Mary Lou Berube 
Berniee Blanehette 
George Blanehette 
Roland Boisvert 
Roger Boisvert 
Phyllis Bowden 
Jeanette Brabant 
Doris Brabant 
Elaine Brabant 
Barbara Broe 
Dorothy Bratmore 
Tarasa Carroll 
Alice Chandler 
Iasbelle Chandler 
Claire Cidado 
Mary Connolly 
Donald Coyne 
Ann Crowley 



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Paul Johnson 
Francis Joyce 
John Kane 
Helen Kehoe 
Daniel Kehoe 
Margaret Keough 
William Keough 
Mary King 
John King 
Bronslaw Kohanski 
Albert Labonte 1 
George Lawlor 
Irene Lawler 
Dorothy Lawler 
Beatrice Lemelin 
Rose Lemelin 
James Love 
Beatrice Love 
Edward Luces 
John MacLellan 
Ruth McCarthy 
Edward Mackey 
RitaMackey 
Dorothy Mello 
Louise Morris 
Joan Morris 



Armando DeCarolis 

James DeCarolis 

Josephine DePalma 

Isabelle Descharneis 

Raymond Descharneis 

Georgianne Dickey 

Joseph DiPalma 

Anne Dillon 

Bernard Dougherty 

John Dougherty > 

Louise Doucette 

Marion Dugau 

Ruth Dunn 

Maria Dunn 

William Dunn 

William Farrell 

Leo Fearon 

Lawrence Falls 

Anne Fleming 

Carol Gillisson 

Joe Griffiths 

Helen Harrington (Symonds) 

Mildred Horrigan 

Dorothy Hurley 

Robert Jamieson 

Lorraine Jamieson 



Gloria Miron 
Catherine Mullin 
Robert Noll 
Daniel Noonan 
Richard Obdens 
PatricaaOLaughlin 
Gerry OReilry 
Ella Paten aude 
Lorraine Patenaude 
LornaRonayne 
John Rutkowski 
Elizabeth Ryan 
Anne Ryan 
Earl Sands 
Tommy Sands 
Francis Sargent 
Eleanor Seaward 
Edward Sheehan 
Eileen Sheehan 
William Shepard 
Ester Stevenson 
Charlsie Sullivan 
Charlie Sullivan 
Kevin Sullivan 
Timothy Sullivan 
Dorothy Therriault 
Veronica Tovey 
Marion Tovey 



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CITY SWIMMERS 

Many summer residents spent their days at Silver Lake away from the closeness of their city 
homes. Some learned to swim by making the trip from Skylark to Bloodsucker by treading water or 
by doing the dog paddle to get to the other beach. Young swimmers had to work extra hard to 
make the trip for if they faltered they would have to stand in all of the "guck" between the beaches. 
One such learner was Patrick Hoffman, a Somerville native, who now makes his home in 
Wilmington with his wife Irene and two sons. He obviously learned very well because he ultimately 
captained the University of Connecticut swim team and was installed in the Matignon High School 
Hall of Fame for his swimming achievements. 

Pat was taught by his father, the late Edward Hoffman himself a champion swimmer. The 
Hoffmans -Ed and Mary (Connelly), up from Somerville during the summer months, had a cottage 
on Vernon Street in South Tewksbury, not very far from the Lake. 

Lou Connelly 



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Shawsheen School - Tewksbury 



The other side of the lake 



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-, Dorothy Brothers, Murial Sunbury, — , — , Elizabeth Bowie?, Re&ina Sullivan, MaryLou Berube, Irene Lawler, Dorothy Allen, Gladys — , 
Gertrude Mackey, Theresa Gillisson, 

i Marie Crowley, Lorraine Hinton, — , Jean Crowley, Theresa Sullivan, Marilyn Travers, Bernard Carroll, — , Walter St rem. — 
— , Joe Marsh, — , — , — , Alex Davis, Ronald Chambers, Charlie Pitman 
— , Earl Sands, Robert Noll, John McPhail, Leo Noll, — 



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Harold Sullivan, Earl Sands, Zeke Davis, , Bernard Carroll, Ronald Chambers, Leo Noll, Arthur Balnis, Walter Marsh, , 

Jean Crowley, Theresa Sullivan, Dorothy Allen, , Lorraine Hinton, Dorothy Brothers, , — , 

Marie Crowley, — , Theresa Rehoe, Mariryn Travers, Theresa Gillisson, — , Majorie Carter, — , Dorothy Brownstein, Gladys Strem, Irene Barement, 

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Donald Berube, Everyn MeJMabb, — , — , — , — , — JWanny Matnlch 

— , — , Joe Marsh, — , Agnas Balnis 



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SHAWSHEEN SCHOOL 1936 




IS— 



Miss Shaw, Marion Marsh, Agnas Balnis, Jean Crowley, Barbara Seammel, Marie Lawler, Mae Rouff, Marie Crowley, — , Dorothy Allen, Lorraine 
Hinton 

— , — , Alex Doris, Theresa Sullivan, Marilyn Travers, Everyn MeJfabb, Majorie Garter, Irene Bezement, Theresa Gillisson, Arthur Balnis, Alfred 
Yok u bonis, Manny Matnick 

Walter Rouf, Paul Allen, Thomas McCarthy, Ronald Chambers, — , John McPhail, Leo Noll, Jason — 
— , Warren Brothers, — , Joseph Marsh, — 



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M^^^ Leo J 



— -'-^ 

MaryLou Berube, Dorothy Allen, Gertrude Mackey, Theresa Gillisson, Marilyn Travers, Evelyn McNabb, Theresa Sullivan, Irene Lawler, — , Theresa 

Barrett 

Miss Shaw, Marilyn Sunbury, Lorraine Hinton, Dorothy Brothers, Jean Crowley, Marie Hamilton, — , Majorie Carter, Marion Marsh, Marie Crowley 

Noll, Robert Noll, Joseph Marsh, Rockey DeCarolis, — Rouf, Ronald Chambers, Walter Strem, John McPhail. Paul Allen, Buddy Sullivan 
Walter Rouf, — , Thomas McCarthy, — , Earl Sands, Alex Davis, Bernard Carroll, Warren Brothers 



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SHAWSHEEN SCHOOL 1938 





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Gerry Sullivan, Barbara Scammel, Marie Lawler, Gladys Strem, Maxine Thompson, Melvin Moore, Agnas Balnis, Irene Barement, — , Virginia 

Hinton 

Sonny Jameson, — , Joe Barrett, Harold Sullivan, — , Walter Marsh, Donald Berube, Jack Kehoe, Manny Matnick 

Warren Dwan, Arthur Balnis, Alfred Yokubonis, Luke Record 



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SHAWSHEEN SCHOOL 1939 





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Patsy Wright, Dorothy Brown stein. Agnas Bain is, Irene Bazemant, Barbara Scammel, Marie Lawler, Theresa Barrett, Gerry Sullivan, Evelyn Lannan, 
Virginia Hinton 

Miss Hill, Maxine Thompson, Gladys Strem, Majorie Carter, Mary Morris, Jean Crowley, Mae Robeson, Theresa Gillensen, Lorraine Hinton, Marie 

Crowley, Theresa Sullivan 

— , Red Weiss, — , Charlie Pitman, — , Manny Matnick, Joe Barrett, Jack Rehoe, 

— , John McPhail, Harold Sullivan, John Sullivan, Walter Marsh, Alex "Zeke" Davis, Ronald Chambers.Thomas Me Carthy 

Donald Berube, Albert Noll, — , Warren Dwan, Alfred Yokubonis, Arthur Balnis, Fred Brothers 



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Silver Lake Memories 
Dick .Allard, 02/11/03 



I grew up in the Silver Lake area of Wilmington, MA My home was on Glen Road next to Lubbers 
Brook. My house was built by my grandfather on Elms Farm property he obtained from my great 
grandfather, "Pop" Neilson. Pop Neilson, his wife and later, my grandmother ran the Elms Farm 
and the 15 room boarding house behind the farmhouse. The property was named The Elms 
because of the huge beautiful elm trees that dotted the property. Dutch elm disease killed off the 
last of the elms by the time I was a teenager. 

I was a lifeguard at the Wilmington Town Beach on Silver Lake every summer from 1959 (14 years 
of age) through 1966 (21 years of age). 

• Pile of Rocks - There is a pile of rocks on a sand bar near the middle of the lake that many of 
the locals knew about and helped build and destroy each year. A good swimmer could swim out, 
locate the rocks, stand on them and wave to amazed people on shore. 

• Lakeside Boys Club - Around 1959 about 20 of us boys from the Silver Lake area formed the 
Lakeside Boys Club that met weekly at the Betterment Hall on Main Street next to Stevens 
Market. One of our activities was to serve at the whist tables for whist parties sponsored by the 
Betterment association and St. Dorothy's Church. 




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• Fish Kill and Restocking - About 1956 a Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Agency began a 
program to make Silver Lake a prime bass fishing pond. The program began with a fish kill 
whereby something was put into the water to kill all the existing fish in the lake. For days 
thousands of dead fish floated to shore. Among them were some truly large goldfish (20 inches 
+), calico bass and other exotic looking things that our mothers did not appreciate us bringing 
home by the bag full. For the next year or so the only fish in the lake were herring that were 
stocked as feed fish for the bass. Bass fishing was great for the next few years, but the lake soon 
reverted to its original pan fish haven as it still is today. 



• Black Snakes in Lubbers Brook - Lubbers Brook ran through my yard at my home near Silver 
Lake. One day after football practice when a car load of guys was dropping me off at home, we 
looked in the brook beside my driveway and saw a swarm of thousands of black snakes swimming 
by. We ran into my Dad's garage and grabbed rakes and shovels and began whacking away at the 
snakes. We had a pile of dozens of dead snakes by the time the swarm vanished. We could be 
cruel at times! 




• Spawning Run to Silver Lake - Every spring there was a spawning run of perch and other 
pan fish in a little tributary that ran from my back yard, through Jack Bowen's yard between 
Lubbers Brook and Silver Lake. The tributary was only about 2 feet wide. When the spawning run 



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was on, you eould stand in the water and scoop up fish in your hands. Today the tributary is 
blocked off and dried up. 

• Trapping Muskrat in Silver Lake - Many of us used to trap muskrat when we were young 
and sell the pelts to a Sears Roebuck representative. We trapped the muskrat in Silver Lake, 
Lubbers Brook and in the Shawsheen River. Bill Curtain was our leading outdoorsman. 

• Hunting at age 15 - It has always struck me as strange that my friends and I could hunt with 
a shotgun in Wilmington when we were 15 years old, but we could not own a much less 
dangerous BB gun until we were 18 years old. 

• Town Beach Memories 1959 to 1966 

• Ju|y 4 Swimming Races - Jack Bowen was the best swimmer. Older guys Tex Johnson, 
Scratch O'Reilly and Winy I^nch used to show up for the across the lake and back swim 
(approximately 1 mile). 



• Drowning - About 1964 a 10 year old girl drowned at Town Beach on a crowded hot Sunday 
afternoon -a vivid and haunting memory. 



• Crowds of 2500 People were not uncommon on hot days at Town Beach. 



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• Practicing FootbaU Plays - Fred Bellissimo was the beach cop and our football coach. We ran 
plays whenever the beach was slow. 

• Larry Gushing - Wilmington Commissioner of Recreation and High School Athletic Director 
was our summertime boss at Town Beach. 

• Water Skiing - Behind Charlie Martin's and Rich Page's speedboats. 

• Skin Diving - Clearing Town Beach waters and exploring all areas of the lake in general. 
Over the years of my youth, the lake bottom became more and more silty, weedy and muddy. In 
some spots the weeds were so thick, it felt like they were grabbing a hold on us. 

• Tom McQuaid and Baby Beach Boat Rentals - We were always messing around with Tom's 
rental row boats . We might have sank a few. Remember the filter cigarette stuck in the space in 
Tom's front teeth and how it fluttered up and down as he talked, growled and yelled at us. 

• National Speed Skating Championships - They were held at Town Beach on Silver Lake 
about 1959. Big local and national names were Jean Ashworth, Janet Tighe, and Mike Wineberg. 

• Silver Lake Hardware - Tiny hardware store by today's standards. Sold fishing tackle, bikes, 
hardware, paint and wallpaper. 



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• TattersalTs - Sold ice cream, newspapers and candy. Sold gas before my time. 

• Al Riley's flying A Gas Station - Tiding to catch Al without his hat on to cover his 
complete^ bald head. Using his air pump to keep our leaky bicycle tires filled. 

• Silver Lake Drug Store - Had a soda fountain. 

• Summer Cottages - Many of the homes around Silver Lake were originally summer cottages 
for Charlestown and Boston families who summered at Silver Lake each year. When I was young, 
many of my summer friends lived in Charlestown during the school year and summered at Silver 
Lake. 

• The Town Crier published by my cousin, Larz Neilson, regularly ran stories about the history 
of Wilmington and Silver Lake.s 

• "Kith S Kin" - A book written by my cousin Sylvia Neilson tells many wonderful stories about 
my mother's generation and life at The Elms and around Silver Lake. 




• Swedish Giftshop 8 Stone House - My aunt Carolyne who came to America from Denmark 
Danish gift shop in her hand made cement block and stone home on Glen Road. The home 



ran a 



was built by her husband, Peter, who was an accomplished mason. 

. Roceo's Restaurant - As a youngster I always thought it was named Roeco's because it was 
built with rochs. Whole ptaas for 99 cents. We teenagers getting thrown out regularly by Old 
Man Rocco" on Friday nights after we had finished ourptaas. 





THE RAINBOW 




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The Rainbow collapsed under the weight of heavy snow in 1948. A new building was built, but the 
Town of Wilmington was a "Dry" town and liquor was no longer served in the restaurants. The 
Shamrock Package Store moved out of the building on Main Street across from Tat's and into the 
new building. 

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MEMORIES OF SILVER LAKE 

My family moved from Cambridge to Wilmington in 1938 when I was the youngest of the six 
siblings. In order they were Mae, Alice, Margaret, Martha, Danny and I. My youngest sister, 
Patricia, was born in Wilmington. Our parents were Patrick and Annie Rooney; both immigrants 
from Scotland. We first lived in a house on Cunningham St. which belonged to a Mr. Poole who 
was a baker as I remember. Later we moved to 18 Jones Avenue which put us within a short walk 
of Silver Lake. Our neighbors on Jones Avenue were the Palmer's, Weisman's, Baldwin's, 
Cushing's, Krasinski's, Hovey's and a number of rental summer homes. Later Frannie Baldwin 
married Louie Nolan and they built a house next to ours on what use to be a swamp where we 
played. Other members of the Baldwin family also built homes in the area Other families in our 
area were the Boylen's, Perry's, McAndrews, Fiddler's, Curtain's, Neilson's, Ward's, Smith's and 
McDonough's. There were also a number of summer cottages most of which were later converted 
to year-round homes. 

At that time Jones Avenue was still unpaved which I remember well from the time when my 
bicycle hit a rock coming around the corner from Glen Road and I spent some time extracting 
gravel from skin. Of course when we were grown enough we lived in the lake in the summer and 
skated in the winter on the ice. The "huge" size of the lake became apparent when we had to start 
walking around it to go to school at the Mildred H. Rogers school for the first two grades. When 
the wind was too cold from the lake we would walk up Cottage Street to get some protection. On 
other occasions we would walk directly across the lake when the ice was thick in the winter. I can't 
remember how we referred to the adjacent building where we attended the 3rd and 4th grades. I 



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The Mildred Rogers Sehool 



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LUIII! < I SI lliliUU! U iiiliy^lilLlU'atudi 



clllUHHIII /llllllllH" 



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The sehool opened its doors in 1939 as the new Silver Lake 
Sehool. The first and seeond grades occupied the building; the 
third and fourth were still in the "Portable -single session. 



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believe it became the changing house for the Town Beach. Our teachers in these grades were Ms. 
Purback, Ms. Harris, Ms. Barret and Ms. Shapiro. As a first grader I remember saying a sad 
farewell with my classmates when our teacher enlisted in the woman's navy corps (WAVES). We 
had our once-ayear class picnic behind the school in what was later developed into the Town 
Beach. 

I distinctly remember a loud roar one day while we were in school there and it turned out that 
a local military pilot (Steve Pilcher) had crashed his airplane into the woods not far from the school. 
Coincidental^? had he survived, he would have become my sister Mae's future brother-in-law she 
having later married his brother, Bob. 

I remember the area of TattersalTs store and the other businesses there. Bill £ Lil Tattersall 
opened "Tat's" which was the destination for most youngsters with a few coins in their pocket. 
You could buy real penny candy and the ice cream cones were a nickel. That meant that my 
mother could send some of us to the store for ice cream with 50 cents and expect a nickel change 
with the 9 cones. I also remember that on the side of the building near Grove Ave. there was a 
small stand at which you could buy fireworks before they were outlawed. Across main street was 
Sam's Economy grocery store at which my buddy, Gene Hovey made a few extra coins by delivering 
orders on his sled in the winter. In time the Seville's made it into a soda fountain. Later Tim 
Cunningham ran the soda fountain which also stocked some essential groceries for the many 
people who would come from the cities to their summer cottages for the weekends. Tim gave me 
my first job which was sweeping up and stocking when it was needed. I think he tried to keep me 
busy because I hung around there so much. (Note: Tim later managed the movie theater in the 
center of town.) Business was really swamped when the crowds would come to the lake on hot 




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On the Job with Jerry Rooney 



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summer weekends. Later Max Mayer of Winchester and his wife, Helen, bought the building. He 
made a pharmacy of it but retained the soda fountain. Both Gene and I worked there for quite a 
few years. Later Louie Hailson managed this store and eventually bought it before he moved to the 
location which used to be Steven's Market across from the lake. I also worked for some time for 
the Houlihan's who had taken over Tat's. Hap, Margaret and the other family members were great 
to work with. They were always in good spirits even when I would join them at 5:00 AM Sunday 
mornings to put together all the inserts which went into the Lowell Sun. 

On the northwest corner of Main and Grove Ave. was an "L" shaped business block which 
housed several different stores over the years. My earliest recollection was an Italian green grocer 
on the corner. We would sometimes pick dandelion greens and sell them to the owner. That was 
later taken over by John Cafiso who made it into a hardware store. Next on Main St. was the 
Elizabeth shop for gifts and infants clothes. My mother later bought that store and ran it for quite 
a few years. There was also a drug store at the far end as well as a barbershop in the building. It 
was in front of this structure that we waited for the school bus to take us to all the grades after our 
four years at Silver Lake. The company was the Holland Bros. Bus Company. Going up Grove 
Ave, Tom McQuaid had his grocery market where we would turn in bacon fat and other types of 
items to help in the war effort. His son, Bob, was in my grade. On Main St. I also remember a small 
restaurant in a building next to the brook just before Eaton's house. Later Danny Cosman made a 
TV/radio store of it. 

On the corner of Cottage and Main Street was Al (Jake) Riley's gas station. As a boy of 8 
years old I can remember wheeling my father's flat tire up to the station and when I arrived 
everyone was buzzing about something they had heard on the radio. When I was told of the death 



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of President Roosevelt I was in total disbelief. The President was just about next to God and how 
could he die? It made a very lasting impression on me. 

One of the best known buildings in the area was the old ieehouse. We used to fish near it and 
along the white fence opposite Steven's Market. I used to be fascinated when we had a chance to 
watch the cutting of the ice and the "big kids" getting a job to pole the slabs over to the ramp by 
which they would be elevated to the three floors of the ice-house and packed in straw. Of course, 
we all had iceboxes in those days and the ice was used for cooling anything. In the hot summer 
when the iceman would come down the street we kids would wait for the iceman to cut the large 
blocks into smaller pieces for the sale and we would scoop up the cool ice chips for relief. The 
greater fun of the icehouse came in the autumn when they would clean out all of the hay into a 
"mountain" and we would play "king of the mountain" or jump from the top of the building into 
the pile. I also remember well the day that the heavy, dark smoke came over our house and we all 
rushed to witness the end of the structure in a huge blaze. 

Thompson's Grove was a place of varied entertainment from carnivals to the dance hall to 
wrestling. I didn't realize what a popular destination it was for city people until I moved to New 
Bedford, Mass. in 1968 and became acquainted with many hard-working Cape Verdean people of 
this area. Many older folks spoke of the outings they used to enjoy at Silver Lake while they had 
their summer picnic at Thompson's Grove. 

I can not remember the year but I do remember a celebration of the town which I believe was 
called, "Old Home Days". It featured many events including a great parade down Main St. to the 
Silver Lake area As kids we had never seen so many horses together at one time. 

Another building which holds many memories was the Silver Lake Betterment Association 




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Hall. It was used for community events including penny sales, dances, beano games and the like. 
It was also an outstation of St. Thomas's Church on Sunday mornings where a portable altar was 
put into place and two Masses were said. Of course, we youngsters had to go to the early Mass as 
the nuns would give us catechism instruction between the Masses. I became an altar boy there 
when we had to learn the Latin responses and face away from the people during the entire Mass. 
It was also in this hall where I made my stage debut. Having been learning the ukulele from 
Arthur Godfrey on TV, I played and sang my entire repertoire of 2 songs at a show that was put on 
there. I think they were "Five foot two" and "Lucky Old Sun". It was the start of a long 
association I have had with stringed instruments to this day. 

The cool place that the big kids got to hang out at night was the "wall", a solid concrete wall 
which extended a good distance down the west side of Main St. from Veranda Ave. It would have 
ended across the street from St. Dorothy's Church. Just after that was a small gas station which 
was a gold mine when we found out that you could buy two scoops of sherbet in a double cone for 5 
cents. 

As we grew older the Town Beach was opened and we spent a lot of free time there. I became 
a Junior LifeGuard in the days of Eddie Forest and Danny Boylen. I remember well the day that a 
swimmer died there and Dr. Morris Kelman was taken out to the raft where he tried to resuscitate 
the person without success. I was not at the beach but saw the crowd from across on Main Street 
as I walked home from work. 

Of course everyone in the area knew of "Jack's Lunch" just across from our school. We 
would also pass it on the way to the Silver Lake train station to drop off or pick up someone who 
was traveling to Boston. When we were young we sometimes killed time by walking to the station 



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and then following the tracks to the eenter of town. 

My brother, Danny, and I had a paper-route for some time and it went all the way up Grove 
Ave. past the lake where we would often make a stop at Steward's small store where we could get 
candy or tonic. There was also a small game machine in which you could insert a penny in the top 
and if it rested in a particular place on the way down you would get free merchandise. Being 
married to a woman from Japan, I can well relate that primitive machine to a Pachinko machine in 
Japan. It is the "Bingo" of Japan found in almost every locale. We also went past Shawsheen Ave. 
to Hopkins St. and continued to the old Wilmington/Billerica Airport where we could dream about 
being up in an airplane. We returned by a pathway off Shawsheen Street near the cranberry bogs. 

Of course the ultimate challenge at Silver Lake was to swim across for the first time. I did it 
from Baby Beach to Lake Street. For many weeks before I would swim out a certain distance and 
then return. I remember one day saying to myself, "It's about as far to go back as it is to swim to 
Lake Street." So I made it and remember walking up to the shore in the slimy weeds. 

Lake Street had a number of families that we knew. There were the Melzar's (Mimi was in my 
class and I took piano lessons from her mother for a short while), the Emery's (their cousin's), the 
Riddle's, the Shephard's and the Nobel's. On Fitzgerald Terrace lived the Clements family, their 
grandparents,the Barry's and the Fitzgerald family. Four of the sons were lost in the Coconut 
Grove fire in Boston in 1942. As a teenager I got a summer job taking care of the lawn for Mrs. 
LeFave and did handy work at times. I made a bargain with her for an unused rowboat, which was 
in her yard, and I became the proud owner of my own boat. The Leverone family kindly let me tie it 
up at their land across Grove Ave. from their house. I had it for a couple of years until I went to 
take it out for the winter and found that it had apparently been stolen that morning. I was 




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devastated and never saw it again. It was sad but probably a good lesson for some of the things life 
holds for everyone in time. 

At times I'm sure that other memories will pop up but these are some of the treasures I keep 
in my inner self for reflection on a time of growing and learning in an era whieh is now considered 
naive. Very few families in our area had a great deal of financial resources so we shared many 
things and got closer in doing so. Thus, I share these memories with the reader with the hope of 
touching a common chord from a delightful up-bringing centered around Silver Lake. 

Gerry Rooney 




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THE CORNER OF MAIN STREET AND GROVE AVENUE 



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Main Street looking north towards Tewksbury. The corner of Grove Avenue was a scene of bus? 
activity: Shamrock Liquors, Silver Lake Drug, Tom McQuaid's Market, Art's Barber Shop, Silver 
Lake Hardware, Jake's Gas Station, Harry Paraskeva's Greasy Spoon, and George Steven's Market 
just up on Main Street. The Bowen's had the best view of all from their front porch. 



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FIVE GROVE AVENUE 

My first memory of Silver Lake began in 1935 when my family left Med ford and moved to Six 
Cottage Street. The Brennans, Buckleys, Lees, and Howes were neighbors on our side of the 
street. Across the street lived the Tattersalls, Narys, and the Burns families. The Hourihans who 
faced us in the back were summer residents. Cottage Street was the home of Maroon Field where I 
remember seeing two donkey baseball teams play. A carnival even made a stop there. It was a great 
meeting place for all the local kids who gathered to play pick-up baseball and touch football. I don't 
remember the name of the "grouch" who lived next to the field, but he kept all the balls that ended 
up in his yard. 

At the intersection of Main Street and Grove Avenue was TattersalTs News Agency. Tats, as it 
was referred to, was built in the early 20s by Bill and Lil Tattersall who operated it in the summer 
months. Al "Jake" Riley, who had an ice business during the summer months ran the store and 
operated the gas pumps for the Tattersalls during the winter. In the late 30s when Bill Tattersall 
added a back room to enlarged the store, he removed the gas pumps. Jake relocated next door to 
Tats and constructed a gas station on the corner of Cottage Street and Main. My first job as a 
youngster was working for Bill Tattersall. He would pay me to clean up around the outside of the 
store, rake leaves, and also shovel snow. As soon as I was paid, I would be back in the store 
spending my compensation on tonic, penny candy, Oh-Boy gum, or an ice cream cone. Another 
fond memory of Tats happened every Sunday morning when Herman Bischoff, whose bakery was 
located near the junction of State Street and Main Street in South Tewksbury, faithfully delivered 



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TATTERSALL'S 




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Tattersall's was built in 1924 by Bill and Lil and they only operated it during the summer. AI "Jake" 
Riley, who had an ice delivery business in the summer, ran the store in the winter. Jake moved the 
gas pumps over to his new station in 1940 and opened up. Margaret and Hap Hourihan and their 
family ran the store until it closed out an era. "Tats was ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, newspapers 
("Record" for the number), magazines, milk, bread, candy, and friendship. 



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BILL TATTERS ALL 






£ 






Bill Tattersall Behind the counter in the early 20s; the store remained the same until the early 40s 
when a foundation was put in and the building was raised up. 



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a variety of doughnuts. The doughnuts were still warm when we made our purchase. I especially 
remember the jelly ones which were the best I ever tasted. 

Another door-to-door service I remember happened every Thursday when Mr. Joyce made his 
rounds selling fresh fish. About once a month, Mr. Letter, who lived on Salem Street, (we referred 
to him as "Lightening") would come through the neighborhood on his horse-drawn open wagon. 
As soon as I heard him yelling "Junk - Junk/' I would scour the neighborhood for any thing to sell 
to make a few cents. 

The building directly across Main Street from Al Riley's gas station housed Art's Barber Shop, a 
liquor store and apartments on the second floor. Across from Tattersall's in a green building on 
Main Street was the Economy Grocery Store or £660 as everyone called it. It was managed by a 
gentleman called Sam. I don't remember his last name, but I do remember how he calculated the 
amount of a customer's purchase. He would write the price of every item on a brown grocery bag 
and quickly add up the columns of figures to arrive at the total. The bag was not only used to 
calculate the bill and hold the customer's groceries, but it also served as their receipt. My oldest 
brother, Walter, worked there part time during his high school years and full time after high school, 
until he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in October, 1942. After the £660 closed, Art and Edna 
Seville opened an ice cream parlor. This became a meeting place for many of us, and we called it the 
"Fuzz Bar." Later a drugstore occupied the building. As I recall, it was managed by Louie Hailson, 
who later moved to George Steven's market building. 



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To the left of the £660 building was a path that served as a short eut over Lubber's Brook to Pop 
Neilson's farm and fields. I did not know Pop's Farm when it was a working one with cows and 
horses, but I knew the plaee - a beautiful big house that sat on a big hill! The main feature was a 
significant hill, which became a great attraction after a snow storm. This was the hill of choice for 
the neighborhood kids to do their sledding. Later on, Pop's farm was sold to the Joyce family. 

On the opposite corner of Main Street and Grove avenue, a tri-business block housed a small First 
National Store, a clothing shop (where one of the Rooney girls worked) and a barber shop. After 
the demise of the First National, the Silver Lake Hardware took over the space.When the owner 
was looking for help, I applied and found myself gainfully employed working six days a week 
during the summer of 1945. 

On Grove Avenue behind the First National, Tom McQuaid opened a grocery store and meat 
market and offered a new service - home delivery! Tom had the reputation of being very good to his 
customers who ran "short" - - that is, he allowed them to purchase groceries and meat on "credit" 
marking the amount owed in his record book. MeQu aid's store remained open until the mid 1950's. 
Tom outlasted the £660 and the First National which were forced to close due to low profits. 
After selling their store and house next to Baby Beach, the McQuaids relocated to Tewksbury, and 
Tom opened a store on Route 38 just past the center of town. 



A short distance north of the Economy store at the corner of Main and Glen Road was a three story 



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Tom MeQu aid's Market on 1 Grove Avenue 



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Helpers- Joe Nary and Joe Carmody 



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house into which the Eaton family moved - they previously lived on Cottage Street. I do not 
remember the former owner, but I do recall my parents mentioning a family by the name of Cote, 
who were very French and operated a pool hall and eatery. 

The ice house, owned by Jerry Hale, was located across the street from the Eatons on the Silver 
Lake side of Main Street. It was a huge, cavernous brown structure that had three large bays 
where the blocks of ice were stored. When the ice on the lake was thick enough to cut, a crew from 
the Hale Ice Company showed up to begin the ice cutting process. Since this was a big operation 
and Hale's always needed additional manpower, many of the men and boys from the lake area were 
hired to help during the annual ice harvest. Some of the regulars that I remember included the 
Howes, Narys, Linens and the Gosses. The hired help pushed the blocks of ice onto the drive 
chain that carried the ice up a ramp and into the ice house. My recollection of the procedure was to 
completely fill all three bays to the same level with the blocks of ice before raising the ramp. For 
insulation, straw was placed between each layer of ice. When the ice house was not used to store 
ice, it made an excellent play area. As kids, we often played Hide and Seek, touch football, and 
baseball. The biggest challenge, however, was climbing to the top of the ice house, where we could 
overlook Silver Lake from the roof top. Hale sold the building and the Ten Hill Ice Company became 
the new owner. That was until the Spring of 1944, when the ice house burned to the ground - - a 
spectacular fire that attracted every one from the lake area to watch as the black smoke billowed 
high. The fire was so intense that it burned all the leaves off the trees across the street in Eatons' 
yard. 



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Although it was closed when my family came to Silver Lake, a miniature golf course occupied the 
lot between the tri-business block and the ice house. I do recall seeing the remnants of the tees and 
walkways as well as an overgrown lot when we arrived on the scene. 

Also located on Main Street and opposite the beginning of Lake Street was Steven's Market. It 
was operated by George Stevens, along with his helper, Mrs. Riley. Mr. Allard was the meat cutter. 
My other older brother, Dick, worked for Mr. Stevens . Dick thought Mr. Stevens was not only a 
good manager, but he found him to be a good target shooter and an avid sportsman. 

To the right of Steven's market was the Silver lake Betterment Association. As I recall the 
association was operated by neighbors from the lake area In addition to conducting card and beano 
games, the Betterment sponsored many social affairs for the younger set such as dances and 
holiday parties. One year, at the Halloween Costume Party, I won first prize for my witch costume. 
The events were always well attended by the young folks - - where else could you go in those days 
for free admission and free food? 

Silver Lake is encircled by Grove Avenue on one side, Main Street in front, Lake Street on the 
other side, and Fitz Terrace on the back shore. Lake Street was the site of large, traditional, and 
elegant homes. A couple of them had their own private beach. The families living in those nice 
homes during the 40's and 50's included the Sullivans, Riddles, and the Melzars. Every fall the 
Melzar family would burn the grass in their field next to the lake. The annual procedure was done 
so that the grass would come back greener and thicker in the following spring. 



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The Silver Lake Betterment Association was the social center of all 
activity at the "Lake" all year round 

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Saint Patrick's Day at the SLBA 




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Seated - ft©. StoRes, Alice Wagstsaff, May Rooney, Hazel O'Brien, and Thomas ; MeGuinness 

Standing - Jennie Van Horn, Terry Ryan, Seottie Matheson, Evelyn Mcf)onou£h, Dorothy Malone, Riehard Goss, Amy Malone, 

and Susan Larson 



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Silver Lake Betterment Youth Dance Party 



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Front - Corneilus O'Brien, Maiy Ann Curtin, Christine Cui-tin, Paul Blanehard, Willie Lynch, Frank Guysen 

Rear Muriel Landiy, Thelma Rupp, Betty Whitney, Betty Koalas, Helen Cross, Alice Wagstaff, Marilyn I^yneh, Harel O'Brien, 

and Scottie Matheson 



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Lake street was also the site of a communal baptismal event that happened every summer. The 
ceremony took place at the beach across from the Riddles' house. A large group of candidates 
gathered near the shore, where the minister began by conducting a prayer service. He would 
proceed to baptize each person individually. This part of the ceremony took place in Silver Lake. 
One by one, each candidate waded into the water waist high, and the minister proceeded to dunk 
the person's head underwater- - the individual was baptized. 

Fitz Terrace was an unpaved road that led to Skylark and Bloodsucker beaches - - it also served as 
a pathway to Grove Avenue. I remember passing the large homes belonging to the Barry - 
Fitzgerald and Clements families when I took that route around the Lake. 

I recall my first day of class at the Silver Lake School. It was a long building with two classrooms. 
There were two grades in each room with one teacher for both grades. I think that Miss Towle 
taught the first and second grades, while Miss Mildred Rogers taught the third and fourth. Miss 
Rogers died November 8, 1942, in the tragic Coconut Grove fire. She was a well-liked teacher, and 
the new lake school was dedicated to Mildred Rogers. 

I don't think I ever knew that, at one time, the Union Ice House stood near where the Town Beach 
is today. Also, I did not know the once open-air dance hall at Danger Beach was called the Silver 
Crest, but I do remember the place and seeing the colored lights brightly lit when the dance hall 
operated at night. As a youngster I watched all the activities and could hear the music from Baby 



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View of the Lake from Lake Street 





The Silver Lake School is shown in the left background; "Bloodsucker" 
beach is in the center on the opposite shore. 



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Beach . It wasn't long after I became aware of the attraction that the open-air dance hall closed. My 
recollection is that I was in the second grade when the bandstand and the enclosed areas were torn 
down. The dance floor had a unique feature - - it was concrete! This concrete remained intact until 
the expansion of the Town Beach. In my time, the concrete base became one of the highlights of 
my summer activities. It was a big attraction and in constant use all summer. One end served as a 
patio for the sun-bathers, while the other end was a perfectly divided hand-tennis court. I spent 
many summer days not only watching tennis matches but participating in them when my turn 
came to play the winner of the previous match. The tennis games became great rivalries and were 
very seriously played. There were many good players, but Billy Shepard had a winning reputation. 
I can still remember being challenged when it was my turn to play against him. 

Another popular summer activity at Danger Beach was the many card games, especially hearts 
and whist, that were played. Regulars that I remember were Lester Smith, Jimmy Fleming, Buddy 
Pilcher, Willie Whalen, Gerry O'Reilly, Tootsie Garland, Hazel O'Brien, Marilyn Lynch, Claire Hillson, 
and Norman Stewart. The perfect touch to make the beach anticipation just right came when we 
all chipped in to buy and share an order of french fries and fried clams (the best ever) from our 
favorite place - Jack's Lunch. 

Thompson's Grove was a big attraction for Silver Lake and a favorite place for the locals to play 
baseball and touch football. The Grove was a short distance from Tattersall's News Agency on Main 
Street. It occupied a large area and had tall pine trees, picnic benches, and a ball field. In the Grove 
stood a wood-framed hall in which many events took place such as beano games (players used lima 



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beans to cover the numbers), dancing, roller skating, boxing, and wrestling. Slot machines were 
another big attraction. When the hall was rented for social affairs, busses brought city folks to the 
Grove. They came from Chariest own, Chelsea, Cambridge, and Somerville. When the carnival came, 
it brought more people and excitement to the Grove. 

In 1938 there was no warning of the hurricane that was about to strike. The wind had increased, 
and by late afternoon on that day, the heavy rains came and stronger winds developed. When the 
trees began to sway, many branches began to fall. Suddenly, the air became calm, and the rain 
stopped. I'm not sure that anyone at the time realized the"eye", the calm area in the center of the 
storm, was over the Silver Lake area. It was the calm of the 1938 hurricane that was to leave its 
mark in history. The heavy rain and the hurricane force winds returned, causing more branches 
and many more trees to fall. When the wind began to howl and the trees began to dance and 
uproot, I can still envision the Burns family ( our neighbors on Cottage Street) on their sun porch, 
down on their knees praying and reciting out loud the Hail Mary over and over again. When the 
hurricane intensified, and the gale-force winds caused more felled trees, the neighbors on our 
street decided it was time to leave their homes for a safer place (away from trees) and took refuge 
in the middle of Maroon Field. In retrospect, this was a good decision, and the field was the safest 
place to be. A huge tree uprooted and landed on the porch where earner the Burns family had 
gathered to pray. The tree split their porch in half. The hurricane left its toll on New England and 
throughout the town, but the lake neighborhood had suffered the greatest damage. Streets were 
impassable due to many downed trees, schools were closed, the Silver Lake School lost its roof, and 
we had no electricity for weeks. Town workers, volunteers (young and old), Works Progress 



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Administration (WPA) workers, and high sehool students all pitehed in to clear the streets of 
downed trees. Firewood was plentiful! When the electricity was restored, the neighborhood 
celebrated by hosting a huge block party. 

My family moved from Six Cottage Street to Five Grove Avenue in 1945, and at this new address I 
was logistical^ closer to the Lake. The Lake was the center of fun all year long. In the spring and in 
the fall, the Lake was a great place to throw out a fishing line or to rent a boat and troll. The fall 
foliage around the Lake provided a tapestry of colors- - vivid reds, brilliant golds, and bright yellows 
- - which all made for a breath-taking view. 

During the summer, swimming was a dairy activity, and as I became a more proficient swimmer, I 
was allowed to join the other kids at Danger and Moxie beaches. Water games, hand tennis 
matches, and card games were other highlights of the summer time. A challenge and rite of 
passage was to swim across Silver Lake. My route was from Baby beach to the boathouse at 
Skylark. 

Silver Lake was just as exciting in the winter months. Winter sports included ice fishing, ice 
skating, and pick-up hockey games, as well as sledding on Pop's Farm hill. Ice fishing was done 
through an opening in the ice in which a fish trap was set with a small red flag that would spring 
up when a fish took the bait. A fun game that attracted a lot of skaters was to form a whip. 
Everyone wanted to be on the end - that person really got propelled! The biggest kid was first and 
skated backwards and did the snap. On windy days, I remember carrying a makeshift sail and 



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Bob Goss - Fisherman 



Bob Goss - Hardware man 



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being blown all over the Lake. My recollection is that in some winters the iee was like glass and 
hard as steel. Other winters there was a lot of snow which meant a lot of shoveling had to take 
place before anyone could skate or play hockey. After the ice was cut and stored in the ice house, 
the refrozen area became the best place to skate. At night, the skaters stayed warm by building 
bonfires on the Lake. 

Thus it is that I have lots of fond memories of Silver Lake from the time my family moved to 
Cottage Street in 1935 until I joined the military in 1951. Particularly memorable for me is the white 
railing fence on Main Street at the Lake, because it was along this railing that I first met a girl from 
South Tewksbury. I asked her for a date, and the rest is history. After Edna Ferreira and I were 
married, we moved to Maryland to accept positions in the federal government. I often reflect on my 
Silver Lake years and will always treasure and cherish the wonderful memories of that time in my 
life. 

Bob Goss 



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THE ORIGINAL SHAMROCK LIQUORS 




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If only this building could tell its secrets, wow! 



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THE WALLS OF SILVER LAKE 

As one walks along Main Street at Silver Lake an uninteresting steel guard-rail fenee separates 
the walker from the Lake. A hard, cold rail not inviting to sit on, lean on, or put your leg on. The rail 
is unsightly. Oh! but remember the post and rail wooden wall of so many years ago: we all sat on it, 
leaned against it, fished from it, and on daring days - tight-roped walked it. Everyone and I mean 
everyone touched the wall at the Lake just as they did at the stone wall that guards "Pop's Brook 
(Lubbers). The stone wall was walked on by everyone; it was the hang-out place for all, even those 
butt-smoking summer people from Charlestown. If you were too small and afraid to climb and walk 
it your mother could hold your hand, I am sure that every one remembers walking the wall, I do. 

One Sunday morning at Mass in the new Saint Dorothy's, the Pastor, Father Leahy pronounced at 
the sermon that all of those reckless young juveniles that sit on the stone wall across from the 
church are a sight that disturbs his thoughts. He continued on that they would not be fit persons 
when they reached adulthood. I sat and listened, my mind raced to glimpses of the generations a 
few years older. I remembered that they had sat on the stone wall and upon the white-washed 
fence across from Steven's Market. But most of all I remembered those of the older generation who 
one day were happy and carefree and the next day they were all gone - Japan had bombed Pearl 
Harbor. I also thought of my own generation and friends, most of whom had just returned from 
service during the Korean War. 

I was attending Northeastern at the time of the sermon and was taking a poetry course and wrote 
the following poem for a class assignment 

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SITTING ON THE WALL 

Kindred youths upon the wall, 

Early spring to late in fall. 
No wars or bombs do they fear; 

Rambling now is their career. 
But soon their lives will unfold, 

And bear the cares centuries old. 
Of grief, hardship, and of tears, 

Unknown in early years. 
We see them now and are glad; 

We had our wall as lass and lad. 

Gerry GKReilfo 



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LIZZIES the LAKE 



My Grandfather bought a cottage on the end of Cottage Street near Grove Avenue. My mother 
and father went there on their honeymoon and never left. The eottage had no cellar and was heated 
by an oil stove and on those cold winter mornings when the pipes were frozen we had to heat water 
on the stove to bathe and clean up. Summers the baths were in the waters of the lake. 

Our house had a real nice porch on two sides and we slept out in the summer.To this day I can 
remember my grandmother sitting on the porch and snapping beans for Sunday dinners (dinner 
was always at noon and you had better be there!). We were across the street from Smith's Bakery 
so there was always something or someone to see. Maybe we would be just sitting on the porch 
rocking but we could smell the coffee and rolls cooking at the bakery. There was a soda fountain in 
the bakery and the floors were always wet from the people coming in from the lake. candy was a 
penny and ice cream a nickel a scoop. 

My father would come home promptly at five for supper, eat, and then go out to another job: 
Preston's Atlantic Market liquor store, Huntley's Lunch, or Cavanaugh's taxicab. Because my 
father worked so much, my mother went to the movies every time the pictures changed. 

My uncle Alfred I#nch would always baty sit so that he and his buddies could use our house as a 

place to hang out (Ed Roljylis, Paul McCabe, Bobo Sheppard, Dasher O'Brien, Joe and Bubbsey 

|^ Cunningham, the Pichowitz brothers, Bob and Steve Pilcher, and so many others. We had a player 

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piano and that gang decided it needed fixing and to be tuned up, when they finished it never 
worked again. One night there was a drowning in the lake and they all ran over to the lake leaving 
Willie (Arthur, my brother) and I alone to baty sit eaeh other. The gang would also listen in the 
dark to "Lights Out" and the "Shadow" (The weed of crime bears bitter fruit - the Shadow knows). 
Also the "Big Band" music is still my favorite, I wonder why? !!! 

Mrs. Sheldon lived next door and when they were bored and had nothing to do, they would call the 
police (both of them) and pretend that it was Mr. Sheldon calling to complain about all the noise 
that the boys were making. When the police would arrive they would all run into the woods behind 
the house to hide out. 

On Sundays they would come to our house after the 11 oiclock mass and play cards the rest of the 
day. When the war started the all left for the service - Our house became quiet, we realty missed our 
babysitters. 

Our house was always a hangout spot for the kids around the lake, my brother and all of his friends 
would always be there. To feed all of the kids we would always be making fudge; I don't know how 
my mother kept up with all the missing sugar. 



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My first grade class was the opened up the new Silver Lake School; it was later named the Mildred 
Roger's School in memory of our fourth grade teacher. On a note, Jack Mac Farlane of Jack's 
Lunch fame gave each student an orange when he came back from Florida and began his new 



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season at the lunch cart. My class was also the first to graduate from the new High School . When ^^ 
you stayed after high school for sports or any other activity, you had to walk home the two miles to 
the lake - no busses waiting in those days. 

I can still remember Mr. Lieter in his horse-drawn wagon collecting rags, the Ice Man, a horse- 
drawn vee-shaped wooden snow plow, Mai from Woburn sold household items and clothes from his 
car, a milkman delivered to our door, as well as a man that delivered fish - to our door. 

During the 1938 hurricane a large pine tree fell on our house and the VC2 (Civilian Conservation 
Corps) came out and cleaned out the tree and all of the others that fell in the neighborhood. Trees 
were down everywhere around the lake, even some in it. The CC also brought food for those that 
needed some. 

We spent our whole day at the lake in the summer playing handball, cards (whist and Hearts) 
swimming and diving. All of the kids around the lake would meet at the beach for summer fun and 
just hanging around. My brother, Willie had his front teeth knocked out when he was a teen ager 
and had a new partial plate put in. He dove off the raft and lost the new teeth. He had to tell our 
mother; I bet that if you were around the lake then you could have heard her yelling. He told her 
that he would find them in the morning - never did. So, if you are ever at the Town Beach and step 
on some teeth give Willie tynch a call. At the end of summer the beach was the place to be for the 
Labor Day races; the winners received medals - I've still got mine. 




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1952 - Dave Powers, Aid to President Kennedy, 

with his wife Sis Lynch 

Art and Frances Lynch - Willie looking on. 



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Willie and Billy Calnan eleanin the fish 




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In the winter we all skated, watched the ice being cut, coasted down Moxie onto the lake, or 
coasted at Fop's Hill. We certainty had a lot of fun and none was ever fat, we had to walk 
everywhere. We had a chance to be kids and have fun (no TV). I feel that we had more to do then 
than the kids do today. There were always parties at the SilverLake Betterment Association 
(SLBA), we all went to the movies or the bowling ally in the square. We did Minstrel Shows at 
Villanova Hall. We had 4H where we learned to sew and cook, thanks to Mrs. Noble and Mrs. 
Gornenlisen. 

After all of these years some of the girls that grew up around the lake still try to get together once 
a month for lunch. Some have moved away and when they come home for a visit we manage to get 
together. We all have happy memories of growing up at Silver Lake. 

Marifyn Pilcher aka- Lizzie Lynch 



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We are the Silver Lake girls, 
We wear our hair in curls, 
We wear our dungarees 
rolled up above our knees 





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Marlene Ivanowski, Lois Hollien, BeaFenlon, Bettyann Hourihan, Lizzie Lynch and Shirley Smith 



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euttin' the Catch 




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Willie Lynch, Tom Pileher 
BeaFenlon, Rard\? Barnes, and Bettyann Hourihan 



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Labor Da\? at the beach in the early 50 s 



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Winter at the Bowen's 





John and Mary are inside , the summer viewing porch is empty. 




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THE WILMINGTOJSi DINER 



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Frank Carta opened the diner as a Truek Stop on Route 38, the only one between Boston and 
Lo well. 

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SOME RAMBLING THOUGHTS OF DICK DICKINSON GROWING UP AT SILVER LAKE 



Thinking back to the pleasant days of June, July and August when many of the residents on Grove Avenue 
would return to their summer homes from Charlestown, the North End, Somerville, and many other parts 
around Boston, it brings back many memories. It sort of broke up the monotony of the winter months. It 
seems there were new faces to greet and of course changed faces, since many of your friends had not been 
seen since the previous summer. Now you could scrape together enough playmates to make up a decent size 
baseball team. I remember some of our every-day players were the brothers Tommy, Joey and Jimmy 
Brennan, my brother Bob, Paul Gearty, Don & Jimmy Flemming, Norman Stewart and probably many others 
that escape my memory right now. In the summer, Jim Doherty, who was a cousin of Mary Bemis Pitman, 
Claire Bemis Peterson, Elaine Bemis Curran, frequently joined us. Also in the summer, Herb Peterson and his 
sister Audrey would join us. We normally played either "up" the field (which was two houses beyond mine 
toward the end of Grove Ave.) or we played "down" the field, which was on Burnap Street. This field was 
also used in the fall for our football games. 

Summer was always the time that the carnival came to town, and in earlier years it was held on the grounds of 
where the Town beach is presently located. However, in later years was moved to where St. Dorothy's church 
is presently located. Since there was not much money to spare in households at that time, a youngster had to 
get out and make as much as one could in order to go to the carnival. I remember my sister Cynthia and I 
would go picking blueberries down at the end of Burnap Street. There was a wooded area beyond the Fenlon 
home, which was a short cut to the Silver Lake School. (We often used this path to get to the beach, rather 
than use Grove Avenue.) We would pick as many blueberries as we could and then go from house to house 




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selling quarts of blueberries, making sure that the berries we not too packed down in the container so your 
customer would not get too much for his money! 

Another way for me to make money was a job I had from a neighbor that lived across the street from my 
house. Her name was Annie Cushing. She was a delightful person, who lived in Charlestown and eventually 
moved to Wilmington. Annie used to run Bingo games once a week in her front yard during the summer. 
These games were pretty well attended by many in the Silver Lake area. I used to set up and tear down the 
long tables that we used for the games, which were held in the afternoon under the pine trees that surrounded 
her front yard. 

Whenever one made any money, of course it had to be spent as soon as possible. There was a neighborhood 
store across the street from our house run by Aida and Harry Stewart. Stewart's had everything any youngster 
would want, i.e. ice cream, candy, potato chips, delicious sour and dill pickles in great big containers, and of 
course many of the items that one's parents would need to run a home with a family. It was also a hangout for 
the kids in the neighborhood. One of their sons Norman used to play with us. I think there was also Hank, 
Turk, Dorothy & Pearl, but they were older than us. 

It was "up" the field that I first encountered some real live snakes. I was always afraid of snakes and still to 
this day am not particularly enamored by them, dead or alive. However, some of my "friends" knew this, and 
of course the thing to do was to catch a snake and then tease you with one that they had captured and kept in a 
pit that was in the field behind "home" plate. There was a wooded area near the Silver Lake School (across 
from the Shepard home) that had more than their fair share of snakes. So I finally convinced myself that the 
only way to get rid of this fear is to go with someone, capture one, and show the rest of my buddies that I 
could do it. It was a successful mission. So much for snakes. 



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Summer of course was always a time to spend hours at Silver Lake beach, and my sister and brother always 
swam at Danger beach. To the left of Danger beach as I remember was Gray's Beach (where the Town Beach 
is now) and to the left of that was Bloodsucker Beach, which we never went to, simply because of what the 
name denoted. Moxie beach and Baby beach were not attractions for us. When on the beach, depending on 
the direction of the wind, you could get the very pleasant aroma of French fries and fried clams wafting across 
the beach area, but of course one needed money to get them. To this day, it still is a wonderful aroma to me 
and brings back pleasant memories. Another great attraction was Smith's Bakery, with delicious treats, among 
which I remember were small individual apple pies. Again, they cost money. 

We used to play a lot on Burnap Street, since it was off the beaten track from Grove Avenue. There was a 
game we called "Peggy", and I have mentioned this name to other people of my generation, and they have no 
idea of what I am talking about. I forget how exactly it was played, but I know there was a piece of a twig 
approximately four inches in length that was sharpened at both ends and you used a flat "bat" to hit the peg 
into a box that was outlined on the dirt street. It was an activity that we would play for hours. Also right 
where we played "Peggy" was a good sized pine tree that of course needed to be climbed, and that was always 
a challenge. If you climbed to top, you could almost see Boston?? 

Winter was always a fun time, and sometimes one could make some money, depending on the snow storms. 
We would go from house to house asking if we could shovel walkways. There was a short cut off my end of 
Grove Avenue that was used to cut over to the Silver Lake railroad station, and in the winter people had to 
walk down to where Jack's Lunch was (Wild Avenue?) in order to go to the station. A few of us decided that 
we would shovel a path from Grove Ave., using the shortcut, over to the railroad station, to see if we could 
make some money. The path was next door to the property that was owned by Mrs. Lynch, the former police 
chief Paul Lynch's mother. Mrs. Lynch suggested to us that we make up a sign to put at the Grove Ave. end 



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of the shoveled path that read: "Shoveling snow is no play, for the path please pay. Thank you." We did not 
get rich on the effort. 

In the early part of winter when the ice on Silver Lake was not ready, we used to go skating in a pond that was 
beyond "Up" the field, which we called Bunny Graves. It used to freeze over early and was great for skating. 
Or we would go across the tracks to the old Middlesex Canal or to the cranberry bog on Shawsheen Ave., all 
depending on the weather and what was frozen over. Sledding, depending on the snow, could be done on the 
Lake Street Bridge or if you felt ambitious, walking down to Pop Nielson's farm, which had a nice slope on 
which to sled. 

During February or March, when Lent would arrive, we would go to Mass in the morning at St. Mary's 
Church on Vernon Street in South Tewksbury. Mass must have been at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. Some 
mornings I would see this youngster running up Vernon Street from Main Street, his cassock on a hanger 
flying in the air. He was an altar boy. I see him on TV now, on channel 5. His name is David Boeri. 
Whenever I see him, I think of this. I also, remember in earlier years, Joe Gilligan's father Jim, with his 
beautiful crop of white hair, singing in Church with his great tenor voice. Another good voice in the 
neighborhood, living next door to Stewart's store, was a woman by the name of Helen(?) O'Neill, who on 
some days in her home could be heard singing Italian songs at the top of her lungs. 

These are just a few of the fond memories I have in growing up around Silver Lake. 

Dick Dickinson 




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